The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

Well, I did invoke the national directors when I was being harassed in the fall of 1981, I was in touch with Lord Robens and Lord Roll and Denis Hamilton and also with Mr Edward Pickering. Sir Edward Pickering was the Murdoch appointee to the board, and so I asked him to come to my office and I protested the pressures and particularly the failure to be given the budget, and I said, "I'm looking to you, as I'm looking to these other directors to whom I've spoken, to protect me from these pressures in honour of your duty as an independent director", and I'd known Pickering for a long time and he looked at me and he said, "You have to remember I work for Lord Beaverbrook", who was a notorious brilliant dictator of newspapers, and what Edward Pickering was saying to me, "I am the fifth national director, don't look to me", so that was a total failure.

Lord Robens, Lord Roll and Sidney Greene and to a somewhat lesser extent Lord Dacre were vehemently in support.

When the titles were removed by Rupert Murdoch, illegally ... [break in transmission] [he?] said to me, "We have a leviathan by the nose", and they were so furious they forced him to retract.

I then asked Lord Robens to come to my office and this was in -- the dates in November, December, and I told him what was happening. He said, "Oh, that's his game, is it?" He didn't even have a good word to say. He said, "This is a lunatic asylum. I don't like the way Mr Murdoch does business."

Mind you, he'd been particularly infuriated by the question of removing the titles without the national directors, so it's not true to say I didn't appeal to the national directors. Denis Hamilton's response was, "Just sit there and bide your time and I, Denis, will sort it out and make sure that you get the budgets and things that you were promised", and since Denis Hamilton was such a figure, I was inclined to rely on it, but at the same time Denis had already been fired, he'd left the paper by then, so that was not ...

Lord Robens, I had another meeting with him, who was speaking on behalf of the four, forget Pickering, and the sixth one had not been appointed following the resignation of the journalist representative.

I had the famous meeting, famous in my mind, of Lord Robens where we discussed whether I should, with the backing of the independent directors, insist on staying as editor of the Times. Robens said, "He has no reason to fire you." In fact, he tried to do that and Lord Robens told me that Mr Murdoch at an earlier meeting had asked them to approve my resignation and they said to him, "No, you can't do that, you have to ask Mr Evans", and Lord Robens told me all this. I didn't know that this had gone on, that secretly -- of course, it was all part of the ploy. At the moment, Mr Murdoch was meeting journalists all over London telling them he was going to fire me, et cetera, et cetera, I overspent the budget that didn't exist, I was a communist and all this kind of -- he told a group of Geoffrey Johnson-Smith and Conservative MPs that I was a massive support of the SDP, which I wasn't.

So the answer is -- the real answer is that I by this stage was absolutely disgusted, dismayed and demoralised by living in a vindictive, punitive atmosphere, where every paperclip was challenged. Freedom to operate within a budget? Every -- we got written instructions that I could not send a reporter to a fire without giving written authorisation.

The whole thing was a farce. The production systems were a farce because Rupert Murdoch had not succeeded in getting full access to the computer. I remember the occasion, I'd written an editorial and I go upstairs to look at it and a page -- and I find it sticking to my feet, because it was a paste-up system. It was chaos. It took a long time to get production right.

So I thought, to be absolutely honest, it was attractive to think I should now lead the fight, I've got the backing of these four, and that's enough.

I honestly didn't think I wanted to endure any more of the nit-picking, trying to produce a great newspaper in impossible circumstances, and that's why I resigned.

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