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“‘Spoon boss lets rip on hacks”

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Is an RNS the right place to launch scathing attacks on journalists individually and collectively?

You might think the obvious answer to that is “no”, but then you’re not Tim Martin.

The Wetherspoon boss’s missives are either borderline mad or highly entertaining depending on whether you like him or not (I think he’s great).

Certainly, he feels aggrieved about the coverage he received at the start of lockdown, in particular the claim by Caitlin Moran that Wetherspoon staff would not be paid until the end of April for work they had already done.

The Times issued a retraction “through gritted teeth”, Martin writes.

He goes on: “Fellow Times columnist Alistair Osborne referred to me as a rat, while Caitlin Moran herself, with more venom than a Waqar Younis yorker, called me the worst word in the language, albeit with hyphens replacing some letters – as did the Daily Mail. Ben Marlow of The Daily Telegraph said that I was “Britain’s worst ever boss” – and scores of press stories made similar accusations.”

In some ways it seems unbecoming for the chairman of what is after all a major company with 40,000 staff to start slinging mud at hacks in statements to the stock market.

Martin might reply: they started it.

As a persuasive technique it probably isn’t going to win anyone over.

On the other hand, I think we can assume he finds it highly satisfying.

And he does give a shout-out to the media outlets that he thinks behaved properly.

“Bravo and thanks to publications like the Daily Mirror, Sky News and local newspapers like the Herald Express and the Loughborough Echo which cared enough about the truth to publish a correction or a Wetherspoon article in response,” says Martin.

Not many bosses would dare to fight so openly with the press. In the end, it’s admirable. I think.


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