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Editor hits back at political 'conspiracy theorists'

A regional daily editor has launched a fierce defence of his newspaper against accusations of bias during the recent election campaign.

Leicester Mercury editor Keith Perch says he came under attack from both sides of the political spectrum in the course of the electoral battle.

One group of local Tories claimed the Mercury was biased in favour of a Labour candidate because he had had a previous commercial relationship with the newspaper.

Meanwhile a Labour councillor suggested in an online story comment that Keith was “taking his orders” from the Tory-supporting Daily Mail, which is owned by the Mercury’s ultimate parent company DMGT.

Writing on his blog, Keith said: “Some journalists will say that the only way that they know they are doing a fair job is that they receive complaints from all parties that they are biased against them.

“I’m not sure that I buy that, but I can see where they are coming from.

“We’ve said more than once in the Mercury that we do not support any particular party and seek to be impartial in our coverage, but there are clearly those who don’t believe us.

“We’re fiercely proud of our editorial independence at the Leicester Mercury and only one person sets our editorial policies and that’s me.”

In his blogpost, Keith went on to say that neither DMGT chairman Lord Rothermere, nor Northcliffe managing director Michael Pelosi had ever tried to influence the editorial policy of any of their regional titles.

“I can state categorically that neither of them has even so much as mentioned editorial policy to me,” he added.

“ln practice, the editor does make the decisions to such an extent that other parts of the company often think that we are a pain in the backside.

“I guess that’s just a very long winded way of saying that if you don’t like what you see in the Mercury, don’t bother looking for a conspiracy theory, just pick up the phone and tell me that I got it wrong!”