Virgin Trains has stopped stocking copies of the Daily Mail in its on-board shops after staff complained about the paper’s stance on immigration, gay rights and unemployment.
Richard Branson’s company also said the newspaper was “not compatible” with the company’s brand and beliefs. Branson has previously been critical of the vote to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s “Muslim” migration ban.
A Virgin Trains spokesperson told Press Gazette: “We regularly review the products we have on sale for customers in the shop on-board our west coast trains and after listening to feedback from our people, we decided in November 2017 that we would no longer stock copies of the Daily Mail.
“When we stocked the Daily Mail on-board, we sold one copy for every four trains.”
In an internal memo, seen by PR Week, Virgin Trains staff were told: “Thousands of people choose to read the Daily Mail every day. But they will no longer be reading it courtesy of VT [Virgin Trains].
“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. We won’t be stocking the Daily Mail for sale or as a giveaway.”
The Daily Mail and other right-wing newspapers are the target of a campaign by Stop Funding Hate to persuade companies not to advertise or run promotions with them.
Stationery company Paperchase was criticised after it apologised for advertising in the Daily Mail last November. Lego and The Body Shop have also announced that they will no longer run promotions in the paper.
A Daily Mail spokesperson said: “It is disgraceful that, at a time of massive customer dissatisfaction over ever-increasing rail fares, and after the taxpayer was forced to bail out Virgin’s East Coast mainline franchise – a decision strongly criticised by the Mail – that Virgin Trains should now announce that for political reasons it is censoring the choice of newspapers it offers to passengers.
“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.”
Picture: Reuters/Neil Hall