Paul Foot

Great Take-Over Plot

Reporter Paul Foot Becomes an ‘Interested Shareholder’
to Crack News of the World Revolution ...

(16 November 1968)

From Socialist Worker, No. 97, 16 November 1968, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Two days ago, I set out to discover the faceless ones who threaten the British Press. I skulked for hours in the shady bars of Basle and Threadneedle Street, posing all the while as an ‘interested shareholder’,anxious to do business.

Ten minutes in the City of London was enough for me to uncover the first, grim threads of the NEWS OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION, which threatens the calm of British society.

Ten days that shook News of the World


This Revolution is not just a myth or a pipe-dream concocted by harmless entrepreneurs. It is an extremist-indoctrinated FACT.

The men behind the plot are not out for fun or a few bob (as many shareholders are) but are high-powered fanatics, interested only in achieving financial power through the devious mechanism of the stock market.


The story starts in a plush hotel in Geneva where Mr. Derek Jackson meets Mr. Robert Maxwell, Labour MP for Buckingham. Mr. Jackson owns 25 per cent of the voting shares in the News of the World. And for all the world, this looked to the observer like a harmless meeting between two jovial businessmen.

The facts, as I discovered from behind my dark-glasses, is different. Despite his sweet-sounding name, Robert Maxwell is no Britisher.

He was born in Czechoslovakia, and, since his arrival in this country, he has committed himself ruthlessly to build up a huge publishing Empire.

His meeting with the gullible Jackson marks his first big bid for the News of the World.

Maxwell, oozing bonhomie, and continuing to use his false name, bamboozled Jackson into selling out his holding. The stage was set for his dramatic bid, which shook the world.

Working closely with his friend Mr. Kenneth Keith, executive director of the merchant bank, Hill Samuel, Maxwell launched his 35/- bid on a surprised and frightened stock market.


But he had not bargained for another gang of power-maniacs, lurking under the umbrella of the Carr family, owners of NoW. Maxwell’s bid gave them a chance to launch a counter-offensive.

The story then switches to another foreign country – this time Australia, where Press King Robin Murdoch of News Ltd. picked up his morning paper over breakfast of bacon and eggs and jumped almost immediately to the telephone. In a flash, he had fixed up a partnership with the sinister Carrs to fight Maxwell on his own ground.

In a moment, another party was on the scene – Mr. Jocelyn Hambro, who, for all his respectable connections, still bears a name, which, to say the least of it, is not noticeably British.

The Carrs and Hambro worked out an ingenious scheme. They met me in a back-street lounge near the Mansion House after I had rung Hambro with the false information that I owned a million voting shares in the News of the World.

‘You see,’ one of the Carrs muttered to me, after I had disguised myself in a pinstripe suit and bowler, ‘we plan to buy out the big shareholders at a massive) price in secret, while we tell all the little shareholders to sit tight and wait. Then we can spring a fast one on Koch (the City underworld always refer to Maxwell by his proper name) at the minimum possible price.’


In hundreds of similar meetings all over the City, Hambro’s men worked similar shady deals. Before long, they had a majority of voting shares and the wily Czech had been stymied.

A revolution planned in Switzerland had been thwarted by a similar effort from Sydney.

For the moment an uneasy peace hangs over the presses. The two factions lie deadlocked by their own fanatical conspiracies.

Yet the decent citizens of Britain, the folk who depend on their News of the World with their Sunday breakfasts, have no cause for complacency.

As long as Koch-Maxwell, Carr, Murdoch, Jackson, Hambro, Keith and their ilk are on the loose, no one can sleep easy in their beds.

As one of the Hambro henchmen told me:

‘We will strike again.’

Last updated on 22 October 2020