Jonathan Ross calls Mail ‘noxious’ and ‘insincere’
Ross also claims his phone was hacked and defends his big pay packet - ‘I was at the top of my game’
Jonathan Ross, who was hounded out of the BBC following a tabloid campaign over the 'Sachsgate' scandal, has made a pre-emptive strike against the tabloid press on the eve of his new chat show launching at ITV.
Ross lashed out at the Daily Mail and its sister title the Mail on Sunday - the newspapers which campaigned to oust him from the BBC after just two people complained over his prank phone call to actor Andrew Sachs - in an interview with Radio 5 Live's Richard Bacon on Wednesday. He called its journalists "noxious human beings" and "insincere hypocrites".
The presenter said that the Mail had turned him into a "cartoon character of arrogance" and argued that the newspaper would have already made its mind up about his ITV1 show, which starts on Saturday. "It won't bother me because I know where it is coming from."
Ross defended his controversial interviewing style - often criticised by the Daily Mail - saying that "going too far" was part of the job. On the subject of his 2006 interview with David Cameron, in which he asked the Tory leader whether he had masturbated while thinking about Margaret Thatcher, Ross said: "I thought it was a funny question and I would do that again. The audience laughed and he didn't have a problem with it.
"Who's got a problem with that? I'll tell you who's got a problem with that – the Daily Mail. Well if you are not upsetting the Daily Mail you are doing something wrong."
Ross, who was paid an estimated £6m a year by the BBC before his downfall, added: "We know they are hypocrites and insincere and they have got their own reasons for doing stuff."
He also told Bacon that he was convinced that his phone had been hacked - but by a paper other than the News of the World. He said that police investigating the phone-hacking scandal at News International had found his phone number as well as those of his wife, the screenwriter Jane Goldman, the couple's friends and his agent.
He does not believe that the NotW ever wrote a story based on information gathered from his voicemail, but feels sure that other newspapers have. "I can't say [which newspapers] because I can't prove it. I'm pretty certain, so is Jane [that] they were and we are hopefully going to find out one day. Some of the other newspapers have perhaps been a little more conscientious in covering their tracks."
As for those other notorious voicemails - when Ross and comedian Russell Brand left lewd messages on the answer phone of Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs during a Radio 2 show - the presenter admitted that the pressure he felt over the incident had contributed to his decision to leave the BBC in 2010.
Scrutiny over his pay packet had also played a part in his departure after 13 years at the Corporation, he said. However, Ross insisted he was paid no more than his market value, claiming that he "turned down millions" to stay at the BBC. "Sure I was paid a lot of money, but I'm not in a regular job. I'm in show business and I was at the top of my game." ·
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