Daily Express

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Daily Express
Front page, 19 November 2011
Type Daily newspaper
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) Richard Desmond
Publisher Northern and Shell Media
Editor Hugh Whittow
Founded 24 April 1900
Political alignment UKIP
Headquarters 10 Lower Thames Street,
London EC3R 6EN
Circulation 488,246 (March 2014)[1]
OCLC number 173337077
Website www.express.co.uk Daily Express on Twitter

The Daily Express is a daily national middle market tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom. It is the flagship title of Express Newspapers, a subsidiary of Northern & Shell (itself wholly owned by Richard Desmond). In March 2014, it had an average daily circulation of 488,246.[1] In recent years, the Daily Express has become a supporter of UKIP,[2][3][4] acting as a financial backer.

Express Newspapers currently publishes the Sunday Express (launched in 1918), Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday.


Exterior of Owen Williams' Daily Express Building in Manchester.
Exterior of Daily Express Building in London, designed by Ellis and Clark.

The Daily Express was founded in 1900 by Sir Arthur Pearson, with the first issue appearing on 24 April 1900.[5] Pearson sold the title to the future Lord Beaverbrook in 1916 as a result of losing his sight to Glaucoma.[citation needed] It was one of the first papers to carry gossip, sports, and women's features. It was also the first newspaper in Britain to have a crossword puzzle.

The Express started printing in Manchester in 1927 and in 1931, the publication moved to 120 Fleet Street, a specially commissioned art deco building. Under Beaverbrook, the newspaper achieved a phenomenally high circulation, setting records for newspaper sales several times throughout the 1930s.[6] Its success was partly due to its aggressive marketing campaign and a vigorous circulation war with other populist newspapers.[citation needed] Beaverbrook also discovered and encouraged a gifted editor named Arthur Christiansen, who at an early age showed talent for writing and production.[citation needed] The paper also featured Alfred Bestall's Rupert Bear cartoon and satirical cartoons by Carl Giles.[citation needed] On 24 March 1933, an infamous front page headline titled "Judea Declares War on Germany" was published by the Daily Express.[7] During the late thirties, the paper was a strong advocate of the appeasement policies of the Chamberlain government, due to the direct influence of its owner Lord Beaverbrook.[8] The ruralist author Henry Williamson wrote for the paper on many occasions for half a century, practically the whole of his career.[9] He also wrote for the Sunday Express at the beginning of his career.[10]

In 1938, the publication moved to the Daily Express Building, Manchester (sometimes knicknamed the 'Black Lubyianka') designed by Owen Williams on the same site in Great Ancoats Street.[11] It opened a similar building in Glasgow in 1936 in Albion Street. Glasgow printing ended in 1974 and Manchester in 1989 on the company's own presses.[citation needed] Scottish and Northern editions are now printed by facsimile in Glasgow and Preston respectively by contract printers, London editions at Westferry Printers.[citation needed]

In March 1962, Beaverbrook was attacked in the House of Commons for running "a sustained vendetta" against the British Royal Family in the Express titles.[12] In the same month, the Duke of Edinburgh described the Express as "a bloody awful newspaper. It is full of lies, scandal and imagination. It is a vicious paper."[13] At the height of Beaverbrook's time in control, he told a Royal Commission on the press that he ran his papers "purely for the purpose of making propaganda".[14] The arrival of television and the public's changing interests took their toll on circulation, and following Beaverbrook's death in 1964, the paper's circulation declined for several years. During this period, the Express, practically alone among mainstream newspapers, was vehemently opposed to entry into what became the European Economic Community.[6] It also became critical of commercial television, not out of socialist opposition to commercialism but rather out of Beaverbrook's resentment that he had not been allowed an ITV franchise.

"I run the paper for the purpose of making propaganda and with no other motive".[14]

Lord Beaverbrook, former owner.

Partially as a result of the rejuvenation of the Daily Mail under the editorship of David English and the emergence of The Sun under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch and editorship of Larry Lamb, average daily sales of the Express dropped below four million in 1967, below three million in 1975, and below two million in 1984.[15] The Daily Express switched from broadsheet to tabloid in 1977[16](the Mail having done so six years earlier), and was bought by the construction company Trafalgar House in the same year.[17] Its publishing company, Beaverbrook Newspapers, was renamed Express Newspapers.[18] In 1982, Trafalgar House spun off its publishing interests into a new company, Fleet Holdings, under the leadership of Lord Matthews, but this succumbed to a hostile takeover by United Newspapers in 1985.[19] Under United's ownership, the Express titles moved from Fleet Street to Blackfriars Road in 1989.[20] As part of a marketing campaign designed to increase circulation, the paper was renamed The Express in 1996 (with the Sunday Express becoming The Express on Sunday).[citation needed] United was chaired by Lord Stevens of Ludgate from 1985 to 2000, during which the Express moved from loss to profit, despite rapidly falling sales.[citation needed]

Express Newspapers was sold to publisher Richard Desmond in 2000, and names of the newspapers were reverted to Daily Express and Sunday Express.[citation needed] In 2004, the newspaper moved to its present location on Lower Thames Street in the City of London.[6]

On 31 October 2005 UK Media Group Entertainment Rights secured majority interest from the Daily Express on Rupert Bear. They paid £6 million for a 66.6% control of the character.[citation needed] The Express Newspaper retains minority interest of one-third plus the right to publish Rupert Bear stories in certain Express publications.[citation needed]

Richard Desmond era

In 2000, Express Newspapers was bought by Richard Desmond (left)

In 2000, Express Newspapers was bought by Richard Desmond, publisher of a range of titles including the celebrity magazine OK!. At the time of the acquisition, controversy surrounded the deal since Desmond also owned a number of pornographic magazines such as Big Ones and Asian Babes. Desmond remains the owner of the most popular pornographic television channel in the UK, Television X.

As a result of Desmond's purchase of the paper, many staff including the then editor, Rosie Boycott, and columnist Peter Hitchens departed the company, with Hitchens moving on to The Mail on Sunday, after stating that he could not morally work for a newspaper owned by a pornographer. Despite her different politics, Boycott had an unlikely respect for Hitchens.[21] Stars of old Fleet Street, like the showbiz interviewer and feature writer Paul Callan, were brought in to restore some of the journalistic weight enjoyed by the paper in its peak years.[citation needed]

In 2007, Express Newspapers left the National Publishers Association due to unpaid fees.[citation needed] Since payments made to the NPA fund the Press Complaints Commission, it is possible that the Express and its sister papers could cease being regulated by the PCC. The chairman of the Press Standards Board of Finance, which manages PCC funds, described Express Newspapers as a "rogue publisher".[22]

The Express group lost an unusually large number of high-profile libel cases in 2008–2009; it was forced to pay damages to people involved in the Madeleine McCann case (see below), a member of the Muslim Council of Great Britain, footballer Marco Materazzi, and sports agent Willie McKay. The string of losses led the media commentator Roy Greenslade to conclude that Express Newspapers (which also publishes the Star titles) paid out more in libel damages over that period than any other newspaper group. Although most of the individual amounts paid were not disclosed, the total damages were recorded at £1,570,000.[23] Greenslade characterised Desmond as a "rogue proprietor".[23]

In late 2008, Express Newspapers began a redundancy plan, which involved cutting 80 jobs in an effort to reduce costs by £2.5 million; however, too few staff were willing to take voluntary redundancy.[24] [25] In early 2008, a previous cost-cutting exercise by the group triggered the first 24-hour national press strike in the UK for 18 years.[26] In late August 2009, plans for a further 70 redundancies were announced, affecting journalists across Express Newspapers (including the Daily and Sunday Express, the Daily Star, and the Daily Star Sunday).[27]

In August 2009, the Advertising Standards Authority criticised the company for running advertorials as features alongside adverts for the same products. The ASA noted that the pieces were 'always and uniquely favourable to the product featured in the accompanying ads and contained claims that have been or would be likely to be prohibited in advertisements'[28][29][30][31]

In January 2010, the Daily Express was censured by the Advertising Standards Authority over a front-page promotion for "free" fireworks. This led to comment that the Express has become "the Ryanair of Fleet Street", in that it is a "frequent offender" which pays little heed to the ASA's criticisms.[32]

In May 2010, Desmond announced a commitment of £100 million over the next five years to buy much-needed new equipment for the printing plants, beginning with the immediate purchase of four new presses, amid industry rumours that he was going to establish a new printing plant in the north of London, at Luton.

On 31 December 2010, the Daily Express, along with all the media titles in Desmond's Northern & Shell group, were officially excluded from the Press Complaints Commission after withholding payment.[33] The chairman of PressBof, the PCC's parent organisation called this "a deeply regrettable decision".[citation needed]

Circulation figures according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations in March 2014 showed gross sales of its long-standing rival the Daily Mail are at 1,708,006[34] compared with 488,246 for the Daily Express.[1]

Sunday Express

Front page of Sunday Express, 7 May 2011

The Sunday Express was launched in 1918. It is currently edited by Martin Townsend. Its circulation in March 2014 was 423,753.[35]


John Bodkin Adams

Suspected serial killer Dr John Bodkin Adams was arrested in 1956 suspected of murdering up to 400 of his wealthy patients in Eastbourne, England.[36] The press, egged on by police leaks, unanimously declared Adams guilty, except for Percy Hoskins, chief crime reporter for the Express.[37] Hoskins was adamant that Adams was merely a naive doctor prosecuted by an overzealous detective, Herbert Hannam, who Hoskins disliked from previous cases.[37] The Express, under Hoskins's direction, was therefore the only major paper to defend Adams, causing Lord Beaverbrook to question Hoskins's stance on the matter frequently.[37] Adams was tried for the murder of Edith Alice Morrell in 1957 and found not guilty (a second count was withdrawn controversially). After the case, a jubilant Beaverbrook phoned Hoskins and said: "Two people were acquitted today", meaning Hoskins as well.[37] The Express then carried an exclusive interview with Adams, who was interviewed by Hoskins for two weeks after the trial in a safe house away from other newspapers. According to archives released in 2003, Adams was thought by police to have killed 163 patients.[36]


On 8 March 2009, the Scottish edition of the Sunday Express published a front page article critical of survivors of the 1996 Dunblane massacre, entitled "Anniversary Shame of Dunblane Survivors". The article criticized the 18-year-old survivors for posting "shocking blogs and photographs of themselves on the internet", revealing that they drank alcohol, made rude gestures and talked about their sex lives.[citation needed] The article provoked several complaints, leading to the printing of a front-page apology a fortnight later,[38] and a subsequent adjudication by the Press Complaints Commission described the article as a "serious error of judgement" and stated, "Although the editor had taken steps to resolve the complaint, and rightly published an apology, the breach of the Code was so serious that no apology could remedy it".

Diana, Princess of Wales

The Daily Express has a reputation for consistently printing conspiracy theories about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales as front page news, earning it the nickname the Daily Ex-Princess;[citation needed] this has been satirised in Private Eye, the newspaper being labelled the Diana Express or the Di'ly Express, and has been attributed to Desmond's close friendship with regular Eye target Mohamed Fayed.[note 1] For a long period in 2006 and 2007, these front-page stories would consistently appear on Mondays; this trend ceased only when the paper focused instead on the Madeleine McCann story (see below). Even on 7 July 2006, the anniversary of the London bombings (used by most other newspapers to publish commemorations) the front page was given over to Diana. This tendency was also mocked on Have I Got News for You when on 6 November 2006, the day other papers reported the death sentence given to Saddam Hussein on their front pages, the Express led with “SPIES COVER UP DIANA 'MURDER'”.

According to The Independent "The Diana stories appear on Mondays because Sunday is often a quiet day."[39] In February and March 2010 the paper returned to featuring Diana stories on the front page on Mondays.

In September 2013, following an allegation raised by the estranged wife of an SAS operative, the Daily Express once again returned to running daily Princess Diana cover stories.[40][41][42][43][44]

Madeleine McCann

In the second half of 2007 the Daily Express gave a large amount of coverage to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. From 3 August 2007, the Express dedicated at least part of the next 100 front pages to Madeleine in a run that lasted until 10 November 2007. 82 of these 100 front page articles used the headline to feature the details of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (often stylised by "MADELEINE" in red block capitals, plus a picture of the child).

Though the family initially said that some journalists may have "overstepped their mark" they acknowledged the benefits in keeping the case in the public eye,[45] but argued that the coverage needed to be toned down since daily headlines are not necessarily helpful.[46] However, in March 2008, the McCanns launched a libel suit against the Daily Express and its sister newspaper, the Daily Star, as well as their Sunday equivalents, following the newspapers' coverage of the case. The action concerned more than 100 stories across the four newspapers, which accused the McCanns of causing their daughter's death and covering it up.[47] One immediate consequence of the action was that Express Newspapers pulled all references to Madeleine from its websites.[48]

In a settlement reached at the High Court of Justice, the newspapers agreed to run a front-page apology to the McCanns on 19 March 2008, publish another apology on the front pages of the Sunday editions of 23 March and make a statement of apology at the High Court. The newspapers also agreed to pay costs and substantial damages, which the McCanns said they would use to fund the search for their daughter.[47] Guardian media commentator Roy Greenslade said it was "unprecedented" for four major newspapers to offer front-page apologies, but also said that it was more than warranted given that the papers had committed "a substantial libel" that shamed the entire British press.[49] Craig Silverman of Regret the Error argued that given how many of the stories appeared on the front page, anything less than a front page apology would have been "unacceptable."[50]

In its apology, the Express stated that "a number of articles in the newspaper have suggested that the couple caused the death of their missing daughter Madeleine and then covered it up. We acknowledge that there is no evidence whatsoever to support this theory and that Kate and Gerry are completely innocent of any involvement in their daughter's disappearance."[51] This was followed in October by an apology and payout (forwarded to the fund again) to a group who had become known as the "Tapas Seven" in relation to the case.[52]

Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants

In 2013, the paper launched a 'Crusade' against new European Union rules of migrants from Bulgaria and Romania.[53][54] The frontpage on Thursday 31 October declared 'Britain is full and fed up. Today join your Daily Express Crusade to stop new flood of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants'.[55] The Aberystwyth University Student Union announced a ban on the sale of the paper.[56] UKIP leader Nigel Farage declared that he had signed the petition, and urged other to do the same.[57] Romanian politician Cătălin Ivan expressed 'outrage' at the campaign.[58] 150,000 people signed the petition.


Daily Express

Sunday Express

1920: James Douglas
1928: James Douglas and John Gordon
1931: John Gordon
1952: Harold Keeble
1954: John Junor
1986: Robin Esser
1989: Robin Morgan
1991: Eve Pollard
1994: Brian Hitchen
1995: Sue Douglas
1996: Richard Addis
1998: Amanda Platell
1999: Michael Pilgrim
2001: Martin Townsend

Notable columnists and staff



Political allegiance

With the exception of the 2001 general election, when it backed the Labour Party,[59] the newspaper has declared its support for the Conservative Party at every general election since World War II until 2015 where they began supporting UKIP.[4][60]

'Crusade for Freedom'

This was the newspaper's own campaign to give the people of the United Kingdom the opportunity to add their names to a petition addressed to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in favour of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. Each edition of 8 January 2011 issue had four cut-out vouchers where readers could sign the pledge and send them to the paper's HQ where the petition was being compiled, there were also further editions with the same voucher included.[61] The campaign attracted the support of many celebrities including sportsman/TV personality Sir Ian Botham[62] and Chairman of J D Wetherspoon Tim Martin[63] who both gave interviews for 8 January's special edition of the paper. The first week of the campaign saw a response of around 370,000 signatures being received (just over 50% of daily readership or around 0.6% of the UK population).

See also


  1. For instance in the "Hackwatch" column of Private Eye #1174, 19 December 2006.


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  54. 'This time let us keep the floodgates closed', Daily Express, page 14, 31 October 2013
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  61. 'A crusade for freedom', Daily Express, page 55, 8 January 2011
  62. 'Botham backs our drive for public vote on Europe', Daily Express, page 59, 8 January 2011
  63. 'Euro red tape is strangling UK enterprise', Daily Express, page 69, 8 January 2011

External links