Key Stories from the Daily Mail

Click to be taken to the following sections:

- Aviation

- Sir Ernest Shackleton

- The Zinoviev Letter

- Hungary

- Hitler

- Everest

- Yeti

- The Beatles

- Vietnam Airlift

- Idi Amin

- Moonies

- Zola Budd



Lord Northcliffe with Orville Wright, 1907

Lord Northcliffe and his brother and successor Harold Harmsworth were obsessed with the new technology of aviation, and constantly featured developments in the pages of the Daily Mail. The Wright Brothers’ first flight was given the headline “BALLONLESS AIRSHIP”.

In 1906 Alberto Santos-Dumont flew the first verified flight in Europe. Northcliffe said “Don’t you realize what this means? Britain is no longer an island”.  On 17 November 1906 the Daily Mail offered £10,000 to the first person to fly from London to Manchester within a 24 hour period – roundly mocked by other newspapers. The Star offered £10,000,000 for “any flying machine that flies five miles from London”. The competition was won in 1910 by French pilot Louis Paulhan, with much coverage in the Daily Mail.

Sir Ernest Shackleton

4 March 1909: Sir Ernest Shackleton sends a cable to the Daily Mail about his expedition to the South Pole. The report fills four-and-a-half columns and becomes one of the Daily Mail’s greatest coups.


The Zinoviev Letter

The Zinoviev Letter, later proven to be a forgery, triggered the fall of the first Labour government led by Ramsey MacDonald. The letter was leaked to The Times and Daily Mail in 1924, and on 25 October 1924 the Daily Mail published a series of sensational headlines:

  • Civil War Plot by Socialists' Masters
  • Moscow Order to Our Reds
  • Great Plot Disclosed Yesterday
  • Paralyse the Army and Navy
  • Mr. MacDonald Would Lend Russia Our Money


Rothermere strongly supported revision of the Treaty of Trianon in favour of Hungary. On 21 June 1927, he wrote an editorial titled “Hungary's Place in the Sun”, in which he supported a detailed plan to restore to Hungary large pieces of territory it lost at the end of the First World War. 

There is a memorial to Rothermere in Budapest.



19 October 1933: Exclusive interview by journalist G Ward Price with Adolf Hitler.



Ralph Izzard, one of the paper’s star reporters, had already been in India and Nepal and was sent to report on the Hillary Expedition. Izzard recruited a couple of Sherpas and a porter and tracked the expedition from its base camp right up to 18,000ft with no specialist equipment. Izzard grabbed a photograph of Edmund Hillary suddenly looking up, just as he told Izzard rather forcibly to go away!  He still got the scoop and made front pages.


The Yeti Everest Expedition in 1954 was supported by the Daily Mail, with Ralph Izzard as an embedded reporter. The team consisted of several respected scientists, including zoologist Charles Stonor, Tom Stobart, Dr. Biswamoy Biswas, and Gerald Russell. They explored the district of Khumbu, eastern Nepal and found some “yeti skull caps” and a photograph of a “Yeti footprint”, which appeared on the front page of the Daily Mail on 2 Feb 1954. Following the expedition, the team published a scientific paper, describing some of the other mammals they discovered, including new species of voles.


The Beatles

“She’s leaving home”, written by Paul McCartney for the Sgt Pepper album, came from a story in the Daily Mail about 17-year-old, Melanie Coe, who ran away from home 27 Feb 1967.

“A Day in the Life” – also from Sgt Pepper – was inspired by Daily Mail stories:

 “4,000 Holes in Blackburn Lancashire” came from Daily Mail 17 Jan 1967, while  “He blew his mind out in a car” is from a story about the Guinness heir Tara Browne, who died in a car crash, as reported in the Daily Mail on 19 Dec 1967 and 17 Jan 1967.

Vietnam Airlift

At the end of the Vietnam War, in 1975, David English undertook the rescue of 96 orphans on the eve of the fall of Saigon. The original idea came from the news editor Brian Freemantle, who later became known for his novels. Freemantle said:

“David English was on the flight. If it went down, David went down, and he knew it. The same went for me and everybody else from the Mail. So if we were willing to die in the effort, it wasn't just a publicity stunt.”

Also on board were senior feature writer, Vincent Mulchrone, and the award-winning photographer Monte Fresco.

Idi Amin

In 1976, sports reporter Ian Wooldridge met the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, who claimed to be a former heavyweight champion. Wooldridge wrote: 'The blades of his armour-plated helicopter barely stopped spraying dust in our faces before he lumbered forward, hand extended, and said: "My aides tell me you've come to discuss my boxing career." Wooldridge put his fists up, and the moment was caught on camera. Wooldridge was a major figure in sports journalism, and also interviewed Ali, Tyson, George Best and many others.



In the 1980s, the Mail set out to protect young people from the brainwashing enticements of the Moonies under the famous headline: The Church that Breaks Up Families. It led to the longest libel action in British legal history, which the Mail won.


Zola Budd

In 1984 the relatively unknown 17-year-old Zola Budd broke the world record for the women's 5,000 metres in South Africa. The record, though unofficial, bettered that of Mary Decker, America's leading contender in the event, by 6.45 seconds. The fact that Budd was an amateur who ran barefoot made it a good story. David English, editor of the Daily Mail, made an offer for Budd 'to come and live in Britain as a British citizen'. If she and her family agreed, the Mail would get her a passport and promote her entry into the Olympics.

During the race, Budd became entangled with Mary Decker, and they both tripped over in one of the greatest upsets in the history of the Olympic Games. Maricica Puica, a relative unknown, was the eventual winner of the race.

Images © Associated Newspapers Limited