Page last updated at 23:35 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 00:35 UK

The editor at centre of Mosley battle

Colin Myler
Colin Myler started his career on a Catholic newspaper in Liverpool
The court case brought by motorsport boss Max Mosley against the News of the World has put its editor Colin Myler in the spotlight. Just over a year into the job of running the nation's biggest-selling tabloid, how much is at stake for his career and reputation?

Even by tabloid standards, it is no ordinary expose - the allegations being aired in the High Court about Max Mosley have been particularly lurid - a so-called torture dungeon involving five women and alleged Nazi overtones.

Before this, Mr Myler was known for two controversial royal stories and a role in the disastrous collapse of the trial of two footballers.

He grew up in Widnes, Cheshire, part of a large Catholic family in a town known for its rugby league tradition.

His first job, straight from school, was as a reporter on the Catholic Pictorial in Liverpool in the late 1960s, where a typical story would be covering a golden wedding anniversary or a first holy communion.

This was suitable for a boy who whose mother apparently accompanied him to his first job interview.

But former Pictorial colleague, photographer Chris Johnson, said it seemed apparent his friend had potential.

'Notorious'

"I remember Colin interviewing Kevin Keegan for the sports page and that was a big feather in his cap because he got a big name interview for the paper and an exclusive."

He was being noticed and soon moved on to a regional news agency and by the age of 22 he had reached Fleet Street, with a job as a reporter on the Sun.

Max Mosley
Max Mosley is asking for compensation and punitive damages

He became news editor on the Today newspaper in the mid-80s and editor of the Sunday Mirror in the early 90s.

One of things he published early on became notorious - the transcripts of the "Camillagate" tapes - intimate phone conversations between the Prince of Wales and the then Camilla Parker Bowles.

The Press Complaints Commission wrote to Charles and Camilla to ask if they felt their privacy had been invaded by the Sunday Mirror.

Speaking at the time, Mr Myler took exception to that approach.

He said: "One would have thought that if the people involved... wanted to complain they would do so. I don't see the need for an invitation to complain."

Mr Myler also had to defend himself against more criticism when he published secret photographs of the Princess of Wales exercising in a London gym.

They sparked outrage at what many people saw as a clear breach of privacy.

But Mr Myler fought back and claimed the pictures exposed not Diana but her security who allowed the pictures to be taken.

'Bad mistake'

It was a stormy first editorship and soon after Colin Myler moved from the Sunday to the Daily Mirror.

But as circulation slumped, he found himself replaced by Piers Morgan.

He had a brief career change involving his long-time passion of rugby league - heading the marketing organisation Super League Europe.

But in 1998 he was given another chance, again becoming editor of the Sunday Mirror.

However, he was to resign three years later amidst another scandal -the 2001 trial of Leeds United footballers Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate.

The pair were charged over an attack on a young Asian man.

While the jury was out, Mr Myler's Sunday Mirror published an interview with the alleged victim's father.

The trial was thrown out and the paper was prosecuted for contempt of court and fined 75,000. Mr Myler, who himself had been at risk of imprisonment, quit.

Kelvin MacKenzie
This story involves a reasonably famous, powerful bloke, five hookers in a dungeon in Chelsea...you look to the sky and you say 'there is a God'
Kelvin MacKenzie

Former Daily Mirror editor David Banks said: "He had taken his eye off the ball - you can't walk away from it. If you're an editor and make that sort of mistake, you've made a bad one."

Last year, Mr Myler was brought back to the UK after a stint on the New York Post to resuscitate the News of the World after the scandal of its royal editor tapping Prince William's mobile.

He has now been at the helm of a flagship Rupert Murdoch paper for 18 months and has been credited with broadening the paper's appeal, launching a new magazine to target its female readers, injecting more consumer stories and more political coverage.

Then came Max Mosley, reported by the News of the World as taking part in a "depraved Nazi-style orgy".

Kelvin Mackenzie now a columnist for the Sun but also a former editor, says the story was a gift.

"This story involves a reasonably famous, powerful bloke, five hookers in a dungeon in Chelsea.

"You are the editor of the News of the World. You look to the sky and you say 'there is a God'.''

But Mr Myler has admitted in court that he should have been more thorough.

The so-called "sex marathon" included conversations in German - but the paper never translated them to find out what was actually said.

It is an uncomfortable time, but Mr Banks thinks "lucky" Mr Myler can weather the storm.

However, as judgement is awaited in the case, Mr Myler now needs more than luck.

Max Mosley is asking not just for compensation but also for punitive damages and he is a formidable opponent.

But as the rugby-loving Catholic lad from Widnes will know, these are risks that go with the territory of a tabloid editor.




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