Trinity Mirror veteran and People editor appointed to take over flagship titles is a tabloid editor with an unusually low profile
The fact that comparatively little is known of Lloyd Embley, the editor of the People who has suddenly been put in charge of a new seven-day Mirror newspaper operation, is testament to a talent rare among some tabloid editors of getting on with the job without drawing attention to oneself.
The low-profile Embley, an 18-year Trinity Mirror veteran, will find himself under considerably more scrutiny taking the reins of the beleaguered publisher’s flagship titles the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror.
Embley, an avid Aston Villa fan, began his media career as a trainee reporter on a local weekly the Daventry Express, rising to the role of deputy editor before joining the Northants Evening Telegraph as subeditor and later as the head of production.
His career at Trinity Mirror began in 1994 when he joined the Daily Mirror as a subeditor.
He went on to hold a number of different production positions, including deputy chief subeditor, assistant night editor, night editor and assistant editor, and worked alongside former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan.
The father of two, who resides in East Sussex, was appointed as acting editor of the People in November 2007 and promoted to editor in May 2008.
Embley gave what many observers viewed as an assured performance at the Leveson inquiry into press standards and ethics, insisting he was not aware of phone hacking ever taking place at the People.
“I’m not aware of any hacking, I have never asked anybody to hack a telephone, I have never seen anyone hack a telephone, I have never heard anyone ask to hack a phone,” he said.
In 2009 he announced that the People would abandon its 84-year allegiance to the Labour party, and launch itself as politically independent. “Rather than being a political mouthpiece I wanted to focus on the readers,” he revealed in his witness statement to the Leveson inquiry into press standards and ethics.
As befits someone who has learned his trade on the coal face of production he is also said to be “very hands on” with staff and as someone who “doesn’t believe in the senior management divide”. The 46-year-old also continues to play in the football kickarounds the People staff play on artificial pitches near the offices.
A Trinity Mirror employee commented: “He is a real people person, he is good at listening to other people’s ideas. No matter what people might think of the title he has done a great job with the People. He has turned it around with no money and no staff. He is very, very hands on and he has done well”.
The ability to work on a shoestring budget will put him in good stead for dealing with ever-decreasing resources with which Trinity Mirror management looks set to run its flagship titles.
Former colleagues say his low-profile should not be mistaken for a lack of ambition.
“Lloyd is approachable and serious,” said one former Daily Mirror reporter. “You don’t really notice him much but he has always been there or thereabouts working his way to the top. He is very power hungry”.
Another former staffer who has worked with him added: “He wanted to get on and didn’t lark about much. In many ways he was quite serious for someone on a tabloid.”
The only embarrassing incident on the record came in the late 90s when, as a young Mirror executive Embley was hit in the face by a former Fleet Street veteran at the Press awards after he had stepped in to intervene in an altercation that had broken out involving Mirror reporter Don MacKay.
In his Leveson witness statement Embley described his paper as a “classic British red top”, citing its campaigning record.
Under his stewardship the People has led campaigns against fuel poverty and in July last year it launched a “Save the Great British High Street” campaign.
Media commentator Peter Wilby noted that Embley’s strategy was part of an attempt to “raise [the People’s] sights from the sleaze and B-list celebrities that long dominated its pages”.
At the Leveson inquiry former People reporter David Brown had claimed in a draft witness statement intended for an employment tribunal in 2007 that hacking was rife at the paper, listing targets including Ulrika Jonsson, Noel Edmonds, Jessie Wallace and David Beckham.
But Embley told the inquiry he had followed up the allegations after they first emerged in October 2011 and found them to be “incorrect and unsubstantiated”.
“I do not believe any hacking went on,” he said. “”I was reassured that it wasn’t happening.”
Embley also underlined his unsentimental no-nonsense approach to his trade with the following observation about his erstwhile former rival, the News of the World:
“Exclusives don’t really move the dial at all. The cricket [News of the World match-fixing exclusive], which we all agreed was a very good story … their sale went down by 6,000 copies that week. But I’m sure the News off the World were very proud that story went around the world.”
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