The Daily Mail hits back: People should apologise to us

The Daily Mail lashed out at accusations that its article on Ralph Miliband revealed an underlying anti-Semitism today, with a demand for its critics to apologise to it.

As the war between Ed Miliband and the Mail reached the end of its first week with no sign of the row abating, editor Paul Dacre sent out Alex Brummer, the paper's City editor, to offer a robust response to the accusation that the article revealed anti-Semitic attitudes at the Mail.

"There are people out there who need to apologise to us," Brummer told the Today programme.

"There are vicious accusations for Neil Kinnock and others that this was an anti-Semitic attack."

Asked why Dacre had failed to make himself available for interview and instead sent out other senior figures to face the press, Brummer said: "The editor tends to speak through his editorials. He's always done that.

"He asked me if I would come in today because he wanted one specific aspect of this to be attacked. As the senior Jewish journalist on the paper he wanted me to take that particular canard and put it to rest.

"I think Dacre feels his voice comes out in those editorials very clearly and he doesn't need to be challenged in this particular case."

Meanwhile, Ed Miliband tried to press his advantage as public opinion swung behind him in his battle against the right-wing tabloid.

The Labour leader used a series of media interviews to demand that the newspaper conduct a review of wider practices in the newsroom, after he received an apology from owner Lord Rothermere for the Mail on Sunday's decision to send a reporter to a memorial service for his uncle.

"What I would hope Rothermere would do is to look at wider culture and practice of the Mail and Mail on Sunday, because this isn't an isolated incident that has happened to me and my family.

"I'm interested in the many other families in public life that have had these experiences. The notion this was an isolated editor sitting on his own – I think it goes beyond that."

Speaking earlier to the LabourList website, he said he wanted to settle the debate on media practice so he could go back to speaking about the cost of living crisis.

"I want this next election to be about the cost of living, not about smears on my late father," he said.

"That is why I chose to speak out now, because the British people need a debate about the issues which matter to them and that won't be possible if this kind of character assassination of people's families continues."

Senior politicians have become increasingly confident in their attacks on the Mail in recent days, as they cast aside decades of advice against going head-to-head with Dacre.

Most Cabinet minister have stuck to the official line that they would also defend their own father without going any further in attacking the paper, however.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt even seemed to back the Mail, stressing that Ralph Miliband "was no friend of the free market economy". Tory chairman Grant Shapps said left-wing newspapers like the Guardian and the Mirror also took part in questionable tactics in the past.

But in the main the political class has swung behind the Labour leader's attack, with some media analysts suggesting that the battle marks a significant turning point in the influence the tabloid newspaper wields.