Scott Trust Limited
The Scott Trust Limited is the British company that owns Guardian Media Group and thus The Guardian and The Observer as well as various other media businesses in the UK. In 2008 it replaced the now-defunct Scott Trust, which had owned the Guardian since 1936.
The Trust was established in 1936 by John Scott, owner of the Manchester Guardian (as it then was) and the Manchester Evening News. After the deaths in quick succession of his father C. P. Scott and brother Edward, and consequent threat of death duties, John Scott wished to prevent future death duties forcing the closure or sale of the newspapers, and to protect the liberal editorial line of the Guardian from interference by future proprietors.
The Trust was dissolved and reformed in 1948, as it was thought that the Trust, under the terms of the original Trust Deed, had become liable to tax due to changes in the law. At this time John Scott also gave up his exclusive right to appoint trustees; the trustees would henceforth appoint new members themselves. Five months after the signing of the new Trust Deed, John Scott died. After three years of legal argument, the Inland Revenue gave up its claim for death duty.
The eight initial trustees of the 1948 Trust were all connected with the Manchester Guardian and Evening News, Ltd., and included four of C. P. Scott's grandsons as well as the then editor of the M.G., A. P. Wadsworth. It has become normal practice for a Guardian journalist to be a member of the trust, though he or she is not considered to be a "representative" of the staff, as this may result in a conflict of interests.
The Trust today
The Trust is responsible for appointing the editor of The Guardian (and those of the group's other main newspapers) but apart from enjoining them to continue the paper's editorial policy on "the same lines and in the same spirit as heretofore", has a policy of not interfering in their decisions. This arrangement tends to give editors a long tenure – for example, the incumbent, Alan Rusbridger, has been there since 1995.
In 1992, the Trust identified its central objective as being the following:
- "To secure the financial and editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation; remaining faithful to its liberal tradition; as a profit-seeking enterprise managed in an efficient and cost-effective manner."
The Trust sees its main functions as being the following:
- "To secure the Trust's own continuity by renewing its membership and by dealing with threats to its existence
- To monitor the organisation, financial management and overall strategy of the Group, holding the Board accountable for its performance
- To appoint and 'in extreme circumstances' to dismiss the editors of The Guardian, the Manchester Evening News (and The Observer after its acquisition in 1993)
- To act as a 'court of appeal' in the event of any dispute between the editorial and managerial sides of the operation."
Besides the GMG businesses, the Scott Trust has a charitable wing, the Scott Trust Foundation, and oversees the Guardian's archive and education centre.
The current chair of the Trust is Liz Forgan, a former Director of Programmes at Channel 4 and Managing Director of BBC Radio. She was appointed in November 2003 to fill the vacancy left by the death of Hugo Young. Other trustees include the current Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, Larry Elliott, Will Hutton, Geraldine Proudler, and one member of the Scott family.
Forgan is the sixth chair of the trust; her predecessors were John Scott (1936–48), Alfred Powell Wadsworth (1948–56), Richard Scott (1956–84), Alastair Hetherington (1984–89), and Hugo Young (1990–2003).
In February 2010, the Trust announced the sale of its GMG Regional Media arm and its regional print titles to the Trinity Mirror Group. The regional titles comprised the Manchester Evening News and 31 others in the North West and South of England. The sale was finalised on 28 March 2010 and ended the Scott Trust's association with regional newspapers.
The Scott Trust Limited
In October 2008 it was announced that the trust was being wound up and its assets transferred to a new limited company named The Scott Trust Limited.
- Ellis, Gavin (2014). Trust Ownership and the Future of News: Media Moguls and White Knights. London: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 157–58. ISBN 9781137369437.
- The Scott Trust Foundation, Registered Charity no. 1027893 at the Charity Commission
- Press Gazette: "Guardian-owning Scott Trust to fold after 72 years"
- The Scott Trust information on the GMG website
- In Scott We Trust: former trustee Victor Keegan on the role of the Scott Trust, 29 September 2003