Daily Mail to launch corrections column

Editor-in-chief Paul Dacre tells Leveson inquiry column will run on page 2, and backs press self-regulation through the PCC

The Daily Mail will introduce a corrections and clarifications column on page 2 of the paper next week, its editor-in-chief, Paul Dacre, has revealed.

Its sister titles the Mail on Sunday and Metro will also introduce similar columns, Dacre told a seminar arranged by the Leveson inquiry to discuss press standards.

No other tabloid runs a regular column of that kind, although many upmarket papers do so.

In a rare and remarkably candid speech, Dacre attacked David Cameron, high court judges, the Labour party, the Guardian, the Russian owners of the Independent and Rupert Murdoch.

He said he "unequivocally condemned phone hacking and payments to police", and described them as "a disgrace". But he criticised the government for responding to the scandal at the News of the World by setting up "a judicial inquiry with more powers" than the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war.

"Let's keep this all in perspective," said Dacre. "The banks didn't collapse because of the News of the World." Neither did the paper cause August's riots or prompt MPs to steal from the constituents they represent in the form of expenses fraud, he argued.

He criticised the panel of experts – or "assessors" – who are advising Lord Justice Leveson, describing them as "a panel of experts who, while honourable and distinguished people, don't not have the faintest clue how mass-selling newspapers operate". They include former Daily Telegraph political editor George Jones and Elinor Goodman, former political editor of Channel 4 News.

Dacre, who chairs the Press Complaints Commission editors' code of practice committee, insisted the PCC did good work and said introducing fines would be counterproductive.

"I profoundly regret that a prime minister who had become too close to News International … made a cynical act of political expediency [by saying] the PCC was a failed body," he said.

Dacre added that the PCC has raised standards in the industry. He conceded it had been "naive" when it failed to hold the News of the World to account over phone hacking but claimed the police should have investigated properly.

He said a press ombudsman – possibly chaired by a retired judge or civil servant and possibly advised by former editors from both sides of the newspaper spectrum – could be created to sit alongside the PCC. He added it "would have the power to summon editors, name offenders … and, in cases of the most extreme malfeasance, impose fines".

The Daily Mail editor added that the major problem facing the press today is the acute commercial crisis, noting "the depressing fact that the newspaper industry is in a sick financial state". The consequence of that, particularly at a local level, he added is that: "Courts aren't covered, councils aren't held to account." Dacre said that caused a "democratic deficit which itself warrants an inquiry".

He said: "The most virulent criticism of self-regulation comes from newspapers that lose eye-watering amounts of money [owned by] trusts or Russian oligarchs. They are free from the [need] to connect with enough readers to be financially viable."

Mounting a passionate defence of tabloid newspapers, Dacre added popular papers could be "vulgar, irreverent, outrageous and even malign. They also represent the views of millions of Britons."

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James Robinson

The GuardianTramp

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