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Virgin Trains to reverse Daily Mail ban from on-board shops after Richard Branson intervenes

By James Walker

Virgin Trains has U-turned on its decision to remove the Daily Mail from shops and First Class on its West Coast trains.

The paper, which sold 70 copies a day on the trainline, had been banned after staff complaints about its stance on immigration and LGBT rights.

In a blog post published this morning, Virgin founder Richard Branson said he has instructed Virgin Trains to “reconsider their decision” and restock the paper while they “undertake a full review of their sales policy, making clear that this policy should not single out individual media titles.

Branson wrote: “The decision was made in response to feedback from some of our Virgin Trains employees. Brian [Souter] and I respect our people when they make decisions and we listen to their views.

“But we must also listen to the concerns voiced widely this week – by those who agree with The Mail’s editorial stance and those who vehemently disagree with it – that this move has been seen as censorship.

“Freedom of speech, freedom of choice and tolerance for differing views are the core principles of any free and open society.

“While Virgin Trains has always said that their passengers are free to read whatever newspaper they choose on board West Coast trains, it is clear that on this occasion the decision to no longer sell The Mail has not been seen to live up to these principles.

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“Brian and I agree that we must not ever be seen to be censoring what our customers read and influencing their freedom of choice. Nor must we be seen to be moralising on behalf of others.

“Instead we should stand up for the values we hold dear and defend them publicly, as I have done with The Mail on many issues over the years.

Branson claimed he was not aware of the decision to remove the Mail from the on-board shop in November until media reports came out.

A Daily Mail spokesperson said: “We welcome Sir Richard Branson and Brian Souter’s support for freedom of speech, which is a cornerstone of our democracy, and his decision to instruct Virgin Trains to restock the Mail.

“We are sure the many Mail readers who travel on Virgin Trains will be delighted.”

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