The Daily Mail has slammed Virgin Trains' decision to stop stocking the paper in its on-board shops as "censorship" after the Richard Branson-owned firm said the publisher was "not compatible" with its own brand values.
Virgin told staff in an internal memo seen by PR week that it was to stop stocking the right-wing paper on the basis that its employees had raised concerns about the Mail's editorial position on issues like immigration and LGBT rights.
The memo read: "Different viewpoints are often valuable, and it’s certainly true that we choose to take our news from different sources depending on our view of the world.
"Thousands of people choose to read the Daily Mail every day. But they will no longer be reading it courtesy of VT [Virgin Trains]... 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 move from Virgin follows on from a dispute between the Daily Mail and Paperchase after the retailer pulled a promotion from Mail's front page following social media complaints from customers.
The Daily Mail was quick to hit back at Virgin's play, saying that Virgin had told the media owner that it only used to sell 70 Daily Mails per-day. The Mail claimed that it was informed by Branson's firm last November that to "save space" it was restricting sales to just three newspapers – the Mirror, the Financial Times and the 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," added the Daily Mail.
Failing to take in to account that Virgin Trains, which runs the west coast rail franchise, is a separate company from Virgin Trains East Coast, a spokesperson from the publisher told The Drum: "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."
Referencing the fact that the company's decision was outlined by the in-house magazine of rail trade union ASELF, the spokesperson added: "It is equally rich that Virgin chose to launch this attack on free speech in the ASLEF trade union journal."