The Manchester Guardian (now the Guardian) was founded in 1821 to promote the liberal interest in the aftermath of the Peterloo massacre. The newspaper gained an international reputation under long-serving editor and latterly owner CP Scott.
The Scott Trust was created in 1936 following the death of CP Scott and his son Edward in 1932. Edward’s brother John was left as the sole owner, and was faced with the threat of death duties, which would have crippled the business and jeopardised the future independence of the newspaper.
To avoid this, and to secure his father’s legacy of the Manchester Guardian’s independent liberal journalism, John Scott voluntarily renounced all financial interest in the business for himself and his family, putting all his shares – worth more than £1 million at the time – into a trust.
This extraordinary act of philanthropy resulted in a unique form of media ownership in the UK, which has now lasted more than 70 years.
The core purpose of the Scott Trust is:
- To secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation; remaining faithful to its liberal tradition; as a profit-seeking enterprise managed in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
- All other activities should be consistent with the central objective. The Company which the Trust owns should: be managed to ensure profits are available to further the central objective; not invest in activities which conflict with the values and principles of the Trust.
- The values and principles of the Trust should be upheld throughout the Group. The Trust declares a subsidiary interest in promoting the causes of freedom in the press and liberal journalism, both in Britain and elsewhere.