Virgin trains and the Daily Mail have become embroiled in a spat after the rail company said it would no longer stock the newspaper on its trains because it was “not compatible with the Virgin Trains brand and our beliefs”.
The decision takes effect immediately on “all services along the west coast mainline, which includes trains from London to Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Scotland,” reports The Guardian.
Previously, the Daily Mail “was one of a limited collection of newspapers and magazines that the train operator sold in its on-board shop and gave away to passengers in first class,” adds the paper.
But in an internal memo sent to staff last year and seen by PR Week, the company bosses said: “Different viewpoints are often valuable, and it’s certainly true that we choose to take our news from different sources depending on our view of the world.”
“Thousands of people choose to read the Daily Mail every day. But they will no longer be reading it courtesy of VT [Virgin Trains]. There’s been considerable concern raised by colleagues about the Mail’s editorial position on issues such as immigration, LGBT rights, and unemployment.”
“We’ve decided that this paper is not compatible with the VT brand and our beliefs. We won’t be stocking the Daily Mail for sale or as a giveaway.”
The Daily Mail hit back at Virgin Trains, saying it was “disgraceful” that the company had announced it was “censoring the choice of newspapers it offers to passengers” when the taxpayer was being forced to bail out Virgin’s East Coast franchise.
A spokesperson for the newspaper said: “It is disgraceful that, at a time of massive customer dissatisfaction over ever-increasing rail fares, and after the taxpayer was forced to bail out Virgin’s East Coast mainline franchise – a decision strongly criticised by the Mail – that Virgin Trains should now announce that for political reasons it is censoring the choice of newspapers it offers to passengers.”
“For the record, Virgin used to sell only 70 Daily Mails a day. They informed us last November that to save space, they were restricting sales to just three newspapers: the Mirror, FT and Times. They gave no other reason, but it may be no coincidence that all those titles, like Virgin owner Sir Richard Branson, are pro-remain.”
In the past the Daily Mail “has been highly critical of the controversy surrounding a Government bailout of Virgin Trains East Coast,” says HuffPostUK.
The decision to stop stocking the Daily Mail has been both welcomed and criticised, with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage saying it was a sign “we are heading in the wrong direction”.
He added: “Banning things because you don’t like them solves nothing.”
A spokesperson for the campaign group Stop Funding Hate, which has urged companies in the past to no longer advertise in the Daily Mail said: “With experts warning that the hate in our media has fuelled hate crime on our streets, there is growing public disquiet about the impact of hostile and discriminatory newspaper coverage.”
“Although our focus is on advertising rather than bulk giveaways, Stop Funding Hate supporters share many of the concerns raised by Virgin Trains employees about the Daily Mail’s coverage.”