The Mail on Sunday
The Mail on Sunday
TypeWeekly newspaper
Owner(s)Daily Mail and General Trust
PublisherDMG Media
EditorDavid Dillon
Founded2 May 1982; 42 years ago (1982-05-02)
Political alignmentConservative
HeadquartersNorthcliffe House, Kensington, London, England
Circulation600,311 (as of February 2024)[1]

The Mail on Sunday is a British conservative newspaper, published in a tabloid format. It is the biggest-selling Sunday newspaper in the UK and was founded in 1982 by Lord Rothermere. Its sister paper, the Daily Mail, was first published in 1896.

In July 2011, following the closure of the News of the World, The Mail on Sunday sold 2.5 million copies a week—making it Britain's biggest-selling Sunday newspaper—but by September that had fallen back to just under 2 million.[2] Like the Daily Mail, it is owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), but the editorial staffs of the two papers are entirely separate.[citation needed] It had an average weekly circulation of 1,284,121 in December 2016; this had fallen to 673,525 by December 2022.[3][1] In April 2020, the Society of Editors announced that the Mail on Sunday was the winner of the Sunday Newspaper of the Year for 2019.[4]


The Mail on Sunday was launched on 2 May 1982 to complement the Daily Mail, the first time Associated Newspapers had published a national Sunday title since it closed the Sunday Dispatch in 1961. The first story on the front page was the Royal Air Force's bombing of Stanley airport in the Falkland Islands. The newspaper's owner, the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), initially wanted a circulation of 1.25 million. By the sixth week of its launch, sales were peaking at 700,000.[citation needed] Its sports coverage was seen to be among its weaknesses at the time of its launch. The Mail on Sunday's first back-page splash was a report from Lisbon on the roller hockey world championships, although this was on a match against Argentina during the Falklands War.[5]

Lord Rothermere, then the proprietor, brought in the Daily Mail's editor David English, who, with a task force of new journalists, redesigned and re-launched The Mail on Sunday. Over three-and-a-half months English managed to halt the paper's decline, and its circulation increased to 840,000. Three new sections were introduced: a sponsored partwork, the initial one forming a cookery book; then a colour comic supplement, an innovation in the British Sunday newspaper market); and lastly, You magazine.

The newspaper's next editor was Stewart Steven. The newspaper's circulation grew from around one million to just under two million during his time. Although its sister paper the Daily Mail has invariably supported the Conservative Party, Steven backed the SDP / Liberal Alliance in the 1983 General Election.[6] The subsequent editors were Jonathan Holborow, Peter Wright and Geordie Greig, who became editor of the Daily Mail in September 2018 and was replaced at the Sunday title by Ted Verity. In 2021, Verity left to edit the Daily Mail and was replaced by his deputy David Dillon.

In the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, the paper, unlike its daily counterpart, came out unequivocally in favour of the Remain campaign.[7] The Mail on Sunday has, following the change of editor from Geordie Greig to Ted Verity, shifted to a more Eurosceptic stance.[8]


In January 2020, The Mail on Sunday was ordered to pay £180,000 in damages to a former council official in Rochdale due to a false article from May 2017. It falsely alleged that the man issued taxi licences to drivers involved in the town's child sexual abuse ring.[9] Waj Iqbal believed that the false accusations were solely because he was of the same Pakistani background as the abusers.[10]

In February 2021, the High Court found that The Mail on Sunday acted unlawfully when it published a letter that Meghan, Duchess of Sussex had sent to her father.[11] The newspaper was sued for her £1.5 million legal fees,[12] and ordered to issue a front-page apology.[13]

Phone hacking

Under Peter Wright's editorship of the Mail on Sunday and his membership of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), the Mail newspaper organisation withheld important evidence about phone hacking from the PCC when the latter held its inquiry into the News of the World's interception of voicemail messages. Specifically, the PCC was not informed that four Mail on Sunday journalists—investigations editor Dennis Rice, news editor Sebastian Hamilton, deputy news editor David Dillon and feature writer Laura Collins—had been told by the Metropolitan Police in 2006 that their mobile phones had been hacked even though Wright, who was editor of the Mail on Sunday, had been made aware of the hacking. The facts did not emerge until several years later, when they were revealed in evidence at the News of the World phone hacking trial.[14]

Wright became a member of the PCC from May 2008.[15] He took over the place previously held by the Daily Mail's editor-in-chief Paul Dacre, who had served on the body from 1999 to April 2008. The PCC issued two reports, in 2007 and 2009, which were compiled in ignorance of the significant information from the Mail group about the hacking of its journalists’ phones. According to The Guardian journalist Nick Davies, whose revelations had resulted in the News of the World phone hacking trial and subsequent conviction of Andy Coulson, this reinforced News International's "rogue reporter" defence.[16] The PCC's 2009 report, which had rejected Davies' claims of widespread hacking at the News of the World, was retracted when it became clear that they were true.[17] Wright and Dacre both failed to mention the hacking of the four Mail on Sunday staff in the evidence they gave to the Leveson Inquiry in 2012.[18]

Angela Rayner story

In April 2022, the Mail on Sunday published an article which alleged that unnamed Conservative Party MPs claimed that Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner tried to distract the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, by crossing and uncrossing her legs.[19][20]

The article was widely condemned, with Johnson describing it as "sexist tripe". The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, called the story "misogynistic and offensive" and requested a meeting with the Mail on Sunday's editor, David Dillon.[20] In response to the invitation, the Daily Mail published a front page headline which read: "No Mister Speaker: In the name of a free press, The Mail respectfully declines the Commons Speaker's summons...".[21]

The Independent Press Standards Organisation received 5,500 complaints about the article. It reported and investigated possible breaches of clauses 1 (accuracy), 3 (harassment) and 12 (discrimination) of the Editors' Code of Practice.[22]


An issue of The Mail on Sunday from 25 November 2007 with all its supplements. The First magazine was included as a preview before it was released on general sale.


1982: Bernard Shrimsley
1982: David English
1982: Stewart Steven
1992: Jonathan Holborow
1998: Peter Wright
2012: Geordie Greig
2018: Ted Verity[24]
2021: David Dillon

See also


  1. ^ a b "The Mail on Sunday". Audit Bureau of Circulations. 12 December 2023. Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  2. ^ "National newspaper circulation December 2007". The Guardian. UK. 2007. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2008.
  3. ^ "Print ABCs: Seven UK national newspapers losing print sales at more than 10 per cent year on year". Press Gazette. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Winners of the National Press Awards for 2019 revealed – Society of Editors". 3 April 2020. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Argentina 8 England 0" by Patrick Collins, The Mail on Sunday page 64, 2 May 1982
  6. ^ Dobbie, Peter (30 April 2004). "Farewell to 'Clive of Chiswick'". Daily Mail. London.
  7. ^ "Mail on Sunday backs remain as major papers declare sides in EU referendum". The Guardian. 19 June 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  8. ^ Waterson, Jim; Rawlinson, Kevin; Henley, Jon (15 January 2019). "The papers on Brexit: betrayal, pragmatism or a leap of faith". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  9. ^ "Mail on Sunday to pay damages over false 'fixer' claims". BBC News. 30 January 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  10. ^ Waterson, Jim (30 January 2020). "Council official wrongly accused over grooming ring gets damages". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Meghan: Mail on Sunday privacy damage 'runs deep'". BBC News. 11 February 2021. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  12. ^ Davies, Caroline (2 March 2021). "Meghan granted £450k interim payment in Mail on Sunday privacy case". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  13. ^ "Mail on Sunday must publish front page statement of Meghan copyright win". BBC News. 6 March 2021. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  14. ^ Greenslade, Roy (2014). “Mail did not reveal to PCC or Leveson that News of the World hacked staff”, The Guardian, 1 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014
  15. ^ Press Complaints Commission (May 2008). Wright appointed to PCC”, Press Complaints Commission website, 15 May 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  16. ^ Davies, Nick (2014). "Hack Attack: How the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch", Vintage, London, ISBN 9780099572367
  17. ^ Press Complaints Commission (2011). "Statement from the PCC on phone hacking following meeting today (6 July 2011)" Archived 10 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Press Complaints Commission, 6 July 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  18. ^ Greenslade, Roy (2014). "Mail did not reveal to PCC or Leveson that News of the World hacked staff", The Guardian (London), 1 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  19. ^ "Angela Rayner: Tory source of misogyny claims would be punished, PM says". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  20. ^ a b "PM threatens 'terrors of the earth' over Tory's Angela Rayner claims". The Guardian. The Guardian News website. 25 April 2022. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  21. ^ "Mail on Sunday rejects Sir Lindsay Hoyle's invitation over Angela Rayner story". BBC News. 27 April 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  22. ^ "5,500 complaints over 'desperate' article about UK MP". RTE. 25 April 2022.
  23. ^ Advertising for the Daily Mail Archived 4 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Tobitt, Charlotte (12 September 2018). "Mail on Sunday appoints new political editor as Simon Walters moves to Daily Mail as assistant editor". Press Gazette. Progressive Media International. Retrieved 13 January 2019.