Sport is only adverts for prostitutes, claims MP - Press Gazette

Sport is only adverts for prostitutes, claims MP

By Dominic Ponsford

As the Sport enters its twentieth year, it is facing a fight for the right to sit on newsagents’ shelves alongside other newspapers.

Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas claims the Daily Sport (and its Sunday stablemate) isn’t a newspaper at all, but rather just "the sexual equivalent of the Exchange & Mart".

And she has demanded that Menzies, WHSmith and other distributors place it out of reach of children, alongside pornographic magazines.

But the Sport’s publishers have responded by branding Curtis-Thomas a publicity seeker who is attacking freedom of the press.

Curtis-Thomas said she has the backing of the NSPCC, Children’s Society and the main UK religions to launch a national campaign if the distributors don’t yield to her demands.

She said of the Sport: "It’s 42 pages of adverts for prostitutes and the adverts are completely explicit.

"There’s no news because it isn’t a newspaper — it’s a vehicle for [David] Sullivan to sell sex, and that’s all.

"I’ve spoken to WHSmith and Menzies about their policy. They’ve said they have it high up in some shops and low down in others — low down in places like airports and bus stations, where they presume there aren’t a lot of children around."

Curtis-Thomas said she has written to the Speaker of the House of Commons, asking for guidance on what language she can quote from the Sport if a proposed 10 Minute Rule Bill debate on the issue takes place.

She said: "He told me, ‘I don’t think there’s anything.’ If you can’t read that content out on the floor of the House, is it really something that should be available to children at 8am?

"If you wanted to read some of that stuff out on the television you would have to wait until 9 or 10pm.

"If the distributors yield we won’t have to do anything, but if they don’t we will introduce a 10 Minute Rule Bill and make people understand they are complicit in peddling porn."

A spokesman for Sport publisher David Sullivan said: "She wants her five minutes of fame.

"It’s ironic that when there’s a big debate in Britain about the freedom of the press one of our MPs is trying to censor it.

"We’ve got more readers per day than the Labour party has members — so where on Earth she thinks she gets her mandate from, I have no idea.

"The Sport is filled with news every single day. We did a full page on bird flu today."

He said the content of the Sport is no more explicit than "what people see for free on holiday in Mallorca".

He added: "This silly woman has not read the newspaper, she’s been told this by a group of about 100 campaigners which, in a population of 60 million, is barely worth thinking about.

"The Sport exists because we have a free press — obviously this woman doesn’t think we should.

"I don’t particularly like The Independent, but I don’t campaign for it to be banned because it’s offensive to people who can’t read long words.

"It’s a wonderful world that women are free to be page-three girls — perhaps this MP would be happier if they had Burkhas on."

The Sport titles employ 100 staff at their Manchester offices and 45 per cent are women.