Northcliffe House was host to a Fleet Street reunion last night, for the launch of Mail executive Robin Esser's memoir 'Crusaders in Chains'. After sixty years a newspaper man, Esser's tome takes us from the glory days to the 'chilling' Leveson Inquiry.
With inky old-timers Les Hinton, Dame Ann Leslie, Richard Kay and Eve Pollard all tucking into the white wine, Mail editor Paul Dacre took to the microphone for some rare public speaking.
He did not disappoint, giving a searing defence of a free press and raging against the 'authoritarian' British state:
'The book's title could not be more apt. All newspapers, from the so called 'qualities', to the 'red tops', have had their own great crusades for the good of society, and I like to think the Mail has had more than most.
And all newspapers - I would argue - face the threat of being chained by statutory press controls as an authoritarian state, aided by those giants of rectitude Max Mosley and Hugh Grant - becomes ever more powerful and intolerant of criticism.
As it conspires to extend its control over a commercially viable free press which I love because it is beholden to no one and the only genuinely free thing we have left in modern Britain.'
Hacked Off and co will love that...