The NUJ has written to the editorial board of Express Newspapers, created to protect the journalistic integrity of the Daily and Sunday Express and Daily Star, to protest at perceived editorial interference by new proprietor Richard Desmond .
Copies of an article in the New Statesman, headlined "Desmond’s Inky Fingers", by media commentator Bill Hagerty, were distributed to the 200-odd NUJ members at a chapel meeting at Ludgate House last week.
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The article alleged that a story on Open, owned by BSkyB, had been pulled from the Sunday Express three weeks ago because of Express Newspapers’ commercial link with Sky.
A copy was also sent to the editorial board, along with the letter, asking for the views of its three members on the matter and on other reports that Desmond was active on the editorial floor.
The chapel believes the Northern & Shell boss was behind the decision by executive editor Michael Pilgrim to kill the Sunday Express story on Open for commercial reasons.
Another story, on Richard Branson’s business interests, written by Michael Gillard, was pulled this Sunday for similar reasons.
The Sunday Express’s chief City correspondent, David Hellier, who wrote the Open story, said: "There have been some allegations of editorial interference made which have been referred to union organiser Jeremy Dear.
"I believe Jeremy has written to the editorial board and I await their reply with interest."
Pilgrim said: "Every week we choose and select stories for the paper. In this process, hundreds of stories are spiked and we cannot possibly discuss the reasons behind each judgement."