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June 24, 2024

Nigel Farage goes to war with Mail titles over coverage of Ukraine comments

Mail and Mail on Sunday reports about Farage and Putin have prompted a Twitter tirade and legal threats.

By Dominic Ponsford

Reform UK party leader Nigel Farage has engaged law firm Carter-Ruck over a Mail on Sunday story quoting Volodymyr Zelenskyy as condemning him.

And Farage accused sister title the Daily Mail of “colluding with the Kremlin” to discredit him.

Farage has been in the firing line since Friday when he told the BBC the West had provoked the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine with the eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union.

On Sunday the Mail on Sunday ran with the headline: “Zelensky: Farage is infected with ‘virus of Putin”.

The source for this appeared to be BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera, who wrote on X on Saturday morning: “No official reaction in Kyiv, where I’ve just arrived, to Nigel Farage’s comments on the West having ‘provoked’ Russia. But one source in the presidential office did tell the BBC that ‘the virus of Putinism, unfortunately, infects people.'”

The Mail on Sunday also published an investigation claiming that 22 Reform candidates have expressed sympathies for Putin or his invasion.

The Daily Mail asked a spokesperson for Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov if Farage was seen as an ally.

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Spokesperson Maria Zakharova is quoted in today’s Daily Mail answering: “How [else do] you see the person who tells people that two plus two is four or reminds you of the exact time?”

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The Daily Mail has also published a two-page tactical voting guide urging Reform UK voters to instead back the Conservatives in order to stop a “Starmer supermajority”.

And in a leader column which admitted that the Conservatives were guilty of “an unforgivable betrayal of their promises” the Mail urged readers not to bring about the “nightmare” of a Tory wipe-out by voting for Reform.

Nigel Farage likens Mail’s Ukraine quote about him to ‘most disgraceful journalistic act of the 20th century’

In a video message posted yesterday on X, Farage said: “Ten years ago I predicted there would be war in Ukraine because I thought Putin would use Nato and EU expansion.”

But he added: “I’ve never supported his administration in any way.”

He added: “A BBC reporter had a quote, my name wasn’t even in the quote. The BBC doubted the story so much they didn’t run it themselves.

“We have instructed Carter-Ruck and they have written already to the Mail on Sunday.”

Farage added: “I then get a message from the Daily Mail who say to us that they, the Daily Mail, has been in touch with the Kremlin. And they say that someone who works with the foreign minister Sergey Lavrov described me as an ally and they plan this to be the next big story tomorrow.

“They know damned well that I’ve never been an ally of the administration. I very much doubt the quote is even truthful.

“The Daily Mail are colluding with the Kremlin and intending to put out Russian propaganda.

“They are doing this to protect their friends, the dying Conservative Party… somehow the owner of the Mail thinks this is my fault. They have destroyed themselves with five years of betrayal and broken promises.”

And Farage drew parallels with the publication of the forged Zinoviev letter in the Daily Mail four days before the 1924 general election. The letter predicted that Labour‘s normalisation of relations with Russia would stir British workers up to revolutionary action.

Farage said of the letter: “It is the most disgraceful and dishonest journalistic act of the entire 20th century and now the Daily Mail 100 years on are trying to do the same again. Trying to stop Reform UK breaking through in big numbers to the UK parliament.

“My advice for you is don’t fall for it. Don’t buy the lies coming out of the Daily Mail.”

The new Conservative government in 1924 concluded the Zinoviev letter was genuine, but historians now believe it was a sophisticated forgery leaked to the UK press by anti-Communist Russians.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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