Daily Mail editor Dacre knew paper was using detective agencies
THE EDITOR of the Daily Mail was aware the newspaper was using search agencies, but not the extent to which they were doing so, he told the inquiry into press standards today.
Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, told the Leveson Inquiry that using private detectives to access information used to be commonplace in the newspaper industry.
The inquiry has previously heard from Mail on Sunday editor Peter Wright that the paper continued using private detective Steve Whittamore for 18 months after he was raided in an investigation into the unlawful trade of personal information.
Whittamore was convicted of illegally accessing data in April 2005.
Mr Dacre, the longest-serving Fleet Street editor, said: "We wrote to Mr Whittamore and said could he give us an assurance that he was acting within the law."
He added: "In 2007 we brought the shutters down and absolutely banned the use of all these... of Whittamore inquiry agencies."
Mr Dacre said that "everybody, every newspaper" had been using Whittamore at one stage. He admitted that he was aware the Daily Mail had been using Whittamore before 2006.
He said: "We didn't realise what they were doing was illegal. There was a very hazy understanding of how the Data Protection Act worked and this was seen as a very quick way of obtaining phone numbers and addresses to corroborate stories."