Former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has pulled out of the contest to be the next head of media regulator Ofcom.
In a letter to The Times newspaper, the 73-year-old has revealed he will not reapply for the role and will instead be taking up an “exciting new job in the private sector”.
This is despite the government having restarted the recruitment process for a new Ofcom chair earlier this year, after Mr Dacre was rejected by an interview board in an initial contest.
Mr Dacre was widely reported to have been Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s favoured candidate for the £142,500 per year position.
In his letter, he said that “many senior members of the government” had been urging him to try again, as he blasted civil servants “who really run this country”.
The government has previously denied it took the unusual decision to re-run the recruitment process – with re-drafted job requirements – in order to give Mr Dacre a better chance at being appointed on a second attempt.
Ofcom is the independent regulator for UK communications services, including the postal service, home and mobile phones, broadband, TV and radio.
Mr Dacre was editor of the Daily Mail for 26 years before becoming chair of the paper’s parent company in 2018.
He left that role – ending his 42-year association with the Daily Mail – earlier this month.
In his letter to The Times, Mr Dacre described his experience of applying for the Ofcom role as an “infelicitous dalliance with the Blob” and claimed the civil service had influenced the process because of his political “convictions”.
He wrote: “To anyone from the private sector, who, God forbid, has convictions, and is thinking of applying for a public appointment, I say the following: The civil service will control (and leak) everything; the process could take a year in which your life will be put on hold; and if you are possessed of an independent mind and are unassociated with the liberal/left, you will have more chance of winning the lottery than getting the job.”
Mr Dacre warned the eventual appointee as new Ofcom chair would face an “awesome challenge” trying to regulate “the omnipotent, ruthless and, as we’ve learnt, amoral tech giants”.
He also cast doubt on whether the current Ofcom chief executive, Melanie Dawes, had “the wherewithal to deal with such issues”.
In a swipe at the civil service, he added: “I’m taking up an exciting new job in the private sector that, in a climate that is increasingly hostile to business, struggles to create the wealth to pay for all those senior civil servants working from home so they can spend more time exercising on their Peloton bikes and polishing their political correctness, safe in the knowledge that it is they, not elected politicians, who really run this country.”
In September, the top civil servant at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Sarah Healey, revealed she had enjoyed working from home during the COVID pandemic as she could spend more time on a Peloton exercise bike, which are worth more than £1,000.