Express owner Desmond uses paper to protect his £1million UKIP donation

Proprietor Richard Desmond treats his newspaper like a pro-Farage press release


‘Farage clings to UKIP leadership’. ‘Top donor tells Farage to quit as aids resign’. So went the headlines on the front of the Telegraph and the Times respectively today as UKIP infighting bubbles on. No doubt these Tory-supporting papers enjoy seeing the pain of a rival party, but the sudden chaos at the head of UKIP is certainly newsworthy.

The Daily Express thinks so too, though its coverage takes a different tack: ‘3.9 million reasons to save UKIP’ booms its front page, referring to the number of votes UKIP received in the general election. It quotes senior UKIP figures who it says are ‘urging’ Nigel Farage to remain party leader.

Express 15 May

The story inside is headed ‘Farage is ‘the right man to fight for an EU vote”, citing supporters like deputy leader Paul Nuttall, donor and businessman Alan Brown, and, er, Nigel Farage himself on why he should stay.

In fact, the story almost reads like a press release for Farage, with quote after quote from supporters. It even breezes over the resignation/sacking of two senior aids to Farage yesterday by tucking it low in the story.

How to account for this difference in coverage? Well, this sentence near the end may provide a clue:

Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond, who gave £1.3million to UKIP in the run up to the election, said:

Nigel has my support 101 per cent.‘”

Evidentially so. It’s good of the paper to include this in the story, but it doesn’t excuse porn baron Desmond using a national newspaper to protect his investment. Perhaps the headline should have read: ‘1.3 million reasons to save UKIP’?


Today’s Express also has a column by Stephen Pollard, ‘We must listen to Bank boss’s fears over immigration’ – fears he doesn’t have and never expressed. As MediaWatch reported yesterday, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said immigration boosts UK productivity, adding that Europe is ‘the largest investor in the United Kingdom’, though he was widely misrepresented in yesterday’s papers. Another triumph for objective and accurate reporting in the Express!

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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Read more: 

Daily Express porn baron’s reasons for £1m UKIP splurge are a bit rich

Daily Mail’s junk report claims Bank of England chief blamed migrants for low wages

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