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Virgin West Coast train firm stops selling Daily Mail

Sir Richard BransonImage copyright
PA

Image caption

Sir Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin

Virgin Trains has announced that it is going to stop selling the Daily Mail newspaper on its West Coast trains.

A spokesperson for Virgin said it regularly reviewed products sold on its trains, adding that “after listening to feedback from our people” it decided to stop stocking copies of the paper.

A Daily Mail spokesman called the decision “disgraceful”.

Last year, stationery chain Paperchase apologised for a promotional giveaway in the Mail following criticism.

The Virgin spokesperson added that when it stocked the paper, it only sold one copy for every four trains.

The spokesperson told the BBC that the paper had never been stocked on its East Coast trains under the management of Virgin/Stagecoach.

And Drew McMillan, head of colleague communication and engagement at Virgin, quoted in the Aslef union’s monthly magazine, said: “Thousands of people choose to read the Daily Mail every day. But they will no longer be reading it courtesy of VT.

“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.”

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage tweeted: “We are heading in a worrying direction.”

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‘Attack on free speech’

The Daily Mail spokesman hit back, saying that at a time when fares were rising, it was “disgraceful” that Virgin was announcing that “for political reasons it is censoring the choice of newspapers it offers to passengers”.

He added: “It is equally rich that Virgin chose to launch this attack on free speech in the Aslef trade union journal.

“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.”

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The Mail has recently been critical of Sir Richard after the government agreed to bail out the Virgin/Stagecoach East Coast franchise.

The partnership had originally pledged to pay £3.3bn to run the service until 2023.

Virgin West Coast runs trains between London, the Midlands, the north-west of England and Scotland.