The Daily Mail slammed Richard Branson for ending the sale of the U.K. newspaper on the billionaire’s Virgin Trains following staff complaints about its editorial stance on issues including LGBT rights and immigration.
A spokesperson for Daily Mail & General Trust Plc’s flagship newspaper called the move “disgraceful” and said Branson may be biased against the Mail because it supports Brexit. The U.K. train operator said the newspaper is “not compatible with the Virgin Trains brand and our beliefs,” according to a company memo published by the rail union ASLEF.
The Mail published a column on Jan. 3 that criticized Virgin’s owner for exploiting public subsidies while enjoying a lavish lifestyle. The paper itself has been the target of campaigning from Stop Funding Hate, a group lobbying advertisers to pull support from British tabloids to tackle “hatred, discrimination and demonization.” U.K. stationery shop Paperchase apologized to customers in November after its Daily Mail promotion prompted complaints.
The Mail’s circulation won’t be badly hit by losing distribution on the trains; it sold nearly 1.4 million papers daily in November, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and Virgin Trains accounted for just 70 per day, according to the paper. The newspaper discontinued all bulk sales to airlines in December, citing commercial reasons.