Roy Greenslade

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Roy Greenslade
Roy Greenslade at SF Summer School.jpg
Greenslade in 2013
Born (1946-12-31) 31 December 1946 (age 74)
Other namesGeorge King
OccupationJournalist, academic
Spouse(s)Noreen Taylor
RelativesNatascha McElhone (stepdaughter)

Roy Greenslade (born 31 December 1946) is a freelance journalist and a former professor of journalism. He supported the IRA’s violence in Northern Ireland during 1970-80, when he was a journalist (, writing for An Phoblacht, under the pseudonym George King (, residing now in Donegal, and is a member of Sinn Fein.

He worked for various national newspapers, culminating in a lengthy period as a media commentator, mainly for The Guardian. He wrote a daily blog about the media for The Guardian from 2006-2018 and wrote a column for London's Evening Standard from 2006 to 2016.[1][2] In 2021 it was reported in The Times newspaper, citing an article by Greenslade in the British Journalism Review, that he supported the bombing campaign of the Provisional IRA.[3][4] Following this revelation, Greenslade resigned as Honorary Visiting Professor at City, University of London.[5]

Early life and career[edit]

He was educated at Dagenham County High School (1957–63) and, aged 17, was hired by the Barking and Dagenham Advertiser. After serving a three-year indentureship he joined the Lancashire Evening Telegraph in Blackburn as a sub-editor, before spending 18 months as a sub-editor at the Manchester office of the Daily Mail. Greenslade was an early member of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist–Leninist).[6]

The Sun, Daily Mirror and elsewhere (1969 to 1991)[edit]

In 1969, he entered Fleet Street as a news sub-editor on The Sun, which had just been acquired by Rupert Murdoch. He had a brief spell with the Daily Mirror in 1972 before returning to The Sun as deputy chief sub-editor, first with the news desk and later in the features department.

He left The Sun in 1974 to write his first book and to take a degree in politics at the University of Sussex. He worked his way through university with part-time sub-editing jobs at the Brighton Argus, BBC Radio Brighton, the Sunday Mirror and Reveille. After graduating in 1979, he joined the Daily Star in Manchester for six months until being seconded to the Daily Express in London. He was soon appointed features editor of the Daily Star.

In 1981 he returned to The Sun as assistant editor. He was involved in the move from Fleet Street to Wapping. Five years later, he transferred to The Sunday Times, first running the Review Section before becoming managing editor (news). In 1990, he was appointed by Robert Maxwell as editor of the Daily Mirror.

While editor of the Daily Mirror, Greenslade was at the centre of a controversy after he rigged a competition in the paper to make sure it was unwinnable. He admitted his behaviour in October 2011 at a seminar at the Leveson Inquiry: ″On behalf of my proprietor Robert Maxwell I fixed a game offering a million pounds to anyone who could spot the ball and ensured that no-one won. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.″[7]

He departed in March 1991 and later that year was consultant editor for three months to both The Sunday Times and Today.

The Guardian and other outlets (1992 to 2016)[edit]

From 1992 until 2005 he was media commentator for The Guardian. He spent three months with The Daily Telegraph in a similar capacity before returning to The Guardian to launch a daily media blog, which ended in 2018. He also wrote a weekly media column for the Evening Standard. His column for the Standard lasted for ten years until April 2016.[2][8] In the context of a changing industry, Greenslade concluded his last column for the Standard with the observation: "Whatever happens, this I know: journalism, the trade I have practised for more than 50 years, must survive. Without it, democracy itself is imperilled".[2]

He presented BBC Radio 4's Mediumwave (1993–95) and in 1996 was the launch presenter of Britain Talks Back on Granada Talk TV. He has been a regular broadcaster on media matters.

Other work[edit]

He is on the board of the academic quarterly, the British Journalism Review, and was a trustee of the media ethics charity, MediaWise. In 2003, he was appointed Professor of Journalism at City, University of London in succession to Hugh Stephenson. He stepped down in 2018, becoming an Honorary Visiting Professor until 2021.

Greenslade has been credited with coining the term: "The Hierarchy of Death" as well as writing extensively on the subject.[9][10]

He is also the author of three books, Goodbye to the Working Class (1976), Maxwell's Fall (1992) and Press Gang: How Newspapers Make Profits from Propaganda (2003).

Greenslade was interviewed by National Life Stories (C467/14) in 2007 for the 'Oral History of the British Press' collection held by the British Library.[11]

Irish republicanism[edit]

During the late 1980s, when he was managing news editor of The Sunday Times, he secretly wrote for An Phoblacht, a newspaper published by Sinn Féin.[12] His pseudonym was George King. Greenslade wrote in a 2021 British Journalism Review article that it was revealed by Nick Davies, a Guardian colleague, with his consent.[13] When Greenslade reviewed Davies's book on his blog in 2008, he did not deny his contributions to An Phoblacht.[14] Greenslade also spoke at a Sinn Féin conference in London on the 30th anniversary of the hunger strikes, and he wrote an article on the same subject for An Phoblacht.

He has had a house in County Donegal for many years, and a close personal friend is Pat Doherty, who from 1988 until 2009 was vice president of Sinn Féin, and who has been publicly named as a former member of the IRA Army Council.[15] He also stood surety in 2013 for IRA member John Downey, one of the suspects in the 1982 bombing of Hyde Park which killed four soldiers.[16] As part of the terms of the Good Friday agreement he was not required to stand trial, Greenslade wrote.[13]

In the British Journalism Review article Greenslade stated he had secretly and explicitly supported the IRA's bombing campaign since the early 1970s.[4][13] Following these disclosures, he resigned from his post as Honorary Visiting Professor at City, University of London.[5]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Noreen Taylor, a former reporter for the Daily Mirror, who is the mother of the actress Natascha McElhone.[17]


  1. ^ "British journalist Roy Greenslade stands surety for IRA man". The Irish Post. 7 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Greenslade, Roy (6 April 2016). "Roy Greenslade: Decade of change but journalism must survive". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Former Fleet Street editor reveals his support for IRA terror campaign".
  4. ^ a b Allen-Mills, Tony (27 February 2021). "Fleet Street editor Roy Greenslade reveals his secret support for the IRA and refuses to apologise". The Times. London. Retrieved 28 February 2021. (subscription required)
  5. ^ a b Hardy, Jack; Mendick, Robert (1 March 2021). "Boris Johnson 'condemns' former Fleet Street editor for piece revealing IRA support". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  6. ^ "High Tide: Reg's Working Class Party" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Axegrinder at Leveson: Phil Hall 'Does a Lebedev' on Roy Greenslade". Press Gazette. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  8. ^ Ponsford, Dominic (7 April 2016). "Evening Standard drops Roy Greenslade media column as press retreats from scrutinising itself". Press Gazette. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Sian murder says a lot about media's values". London Evening Standard. 30 March 2011.
  10. ^ Owen Jones (21 April 2013). "Owen Jones: Our shameful hierarchy - some deaths matter more than others - Comment - Voices". London: The Independent. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  11. ^ National Life Stories, 'Greenslade, Roy (1 of 9) National Life Stories Collection: 'Oral History of the British Press', The British Library Board, 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  12. ^ Greenslade, Roy (3 November 2014). "Demonisation of Gerry Adams a consequence of Ireland's 'media bubble'". The Guardian.
  13. ^ a b c Greenslade, Roy (March 2021). "I cheered on the IRA from Fleet Street — you just didn't read all about it". British Journalism Review. 32 (1). Retrieved 28 February 2021 – via The Sunday Times. (subscription required)
  14. ^ Glover, Stephen (12 March 2012). "The Troubles are still raging for The Guardian's media pundit". The Independent. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  15. ^ Dudley Edwards, Ruth (18 March 2012). "The strange case of the two Roy Greenslades". Irish Independent.
  16. ^ Murphy, Cormac (28 February 2014). "'Guardian' journalist stood surety for suspect". Irish Independent.
  17. ^ "Comedy role for X-Files star Duchovny". The Guardian. 17 March 2007.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Richard Stott
Editor of the Daily Mirror
Succeeded by
Richard Stott