DWP comms head Richard Caseby in "vendetta" spat with The Guardian

A war of words between The Guardian and the Department for Work & Pensions comms head Richard Caseby has led to the paper's assistant editor Michael White accusing the ex-News UK executive of waging a "vendetta" against the paper.

Richard Caseby: Critical of The Guardian
Richard Caseby: Critical of The Guardian

In a blog for the paper last night, White labelled Caseby a "pit bull" and criticised him for a comment piece stating that the paper’s inaccuracies meant it was not fit to join the new press self-regulatory body, the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

White’s piece, posted last night, stated: "It's not smart to have a street brawler pursuing personal vendettas in a post as sensitive as Caseby's at a time when the policies he is called upon to explain and defend are under such attack."

Caseby recently extracted an apology from The Guardian over a comment piece by columnist Polly Toynbee that stated the former News UK managing editor had been hired by DWP minister Iain Duncan Smith.

Caseby yesterday wrote a column for the Press Gazette in which he pointed to a recent Guardian piece on zero-hours workers and claimed the title "gets its facts wrong".

Referencing the new press self-regulator, he added: "The Guardian isn't fit to become a member of IPSO until it starts valuing accuracy."

However, in last night’s blog White accused Caseby of pursuing "personal vendettas" and called his decision to attack The Guardian "perilously reckless".

Pointing to a career of 24 years at News International that had included conflict with The Guardian, he said Caseby "did not know when to stop", adding:

"Whether or not The Guardian joins IPSO or becomes part of a different type of post-Leveson regulation regime is a sensitive topic, but a topic way above the pay grade of Whitehall press officers." 

A Guardian spokesman declined to comment on the matter, while a DWP spokesman said: "Richard Caseby is a communications professional and was commenting in a communications trade magazine."

IPSO was set up following the fallout from the phone hacking scandal and the closure of the Press Complaints Commission.

However, despite gaining the backing of a large number of publishers, Guardian News and Media, Evgeny Lebedev-owned titles The Independent and the London Evening Standard, and the Financial Times have so far refused to join. 

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