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The Daily Express is a conservative, British tabloid newspaper. It is a middle-market title, the flagship title of Express Newspapers and is currently owned by Richard Desmond. , it has a circulation of 728,296.

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


Daily Express was founded in 1900 by Cyril Arthur Pearson, publisher of Pearson's Own and other titles. Pearson sold the title after losing his sight and it was bought in 1916 by the future Lord Beaverbrook. It was one of the first papers to carry gossip, sports, and women's features, and the first newspaper in Britain to have a crossword. The Russian communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote despatches for the paper following his expulsion from the Soviet Unionmarker in 1929. It moved in 1931 to 120 Fleet Streetmarker, 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. Its success was partly due to an aggressive marketing campaign and a vigorous circulation war with other populist newspapers. Beaverbrook also discovered and encouraged a gifted editor named Arthur Christiansen, who showed an uncommon gift for staying in touch with the interests of the reading public. The paper also featured Alfred Bestall's Rupert Bear cartoon and satirical cartoons by Carl Giles. An infamous front page headline of these years was "Judea Declares War on Germany", published on 24 March 1933.

In March 1962, Beaverbrook was attacked in the House of Commons for running "a sustained vendetta" against the Royal Family in the Express titles. In the same month Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in one of his famous unguarded moments, described the Express as "a bloody awful newspaper. It is full of lies, scandal and imagination. It is a vicious paper." 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". 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.

The Daily Express switched from broadsheet to tabloid in 1977 and was bought by the construction company Trafalgar House in the same year. Its publishing company, Beaverbrook Newspapers, was renamed Express Newspapers. 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. Under United's ownership, the Express titles moved from Fleet Street to Blackfriars Roadmarker in 1989. 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).

Express Newspapers was sold to publisher Richard Desmond in 2000, by which time the names had reverted to Daily Express and Sunday Express. In 2004 the newspaper moved to its present location on Lower Thames Street in the City of Londonmarker.

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. The Express Newspaper retains minority interest of one-third plus the right to publish Rupert Bear stories in certain Express publications.

Desmond era

In 2000, Express Newspapers was bought by Richard Desmond, publisher of a range of magazines including the celebrity magazine OK!. Controversy surrounded the acquisition because, at the time, Desmond also owned a selection of pornographic magazines such as Big Ones and Asian Babes — which led to him being nicknamed "Dirty Des" by Private Eyemarker. He is still the owner of the most popular pornographic television channel in the UK, Television X. Desmond's purchase of the paper led to the departure of many staff including the then editor, Rosie Boycott, and columnist Peter Hitchens moved to The Mail on Sunday, stating that he could not morally work for a newspaper owned by a pornographer. Boycott, despite her different politics, had an unlikely respect for Hitchens. 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.

Express Newspapers left the National Publishers Association in 2007 over unpaid fees. 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".

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, the footballer Marco Materazzi and the 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 disclosed at £1,570,000. Greenslade characterised Desmond as a "rogue proprietor".

In late 2008, Express Newspapers began a redundancy plan to cutting 80 jobs, with the aim of reducing costs by £2.5 million; too few staff were willing to take voluntary redundancy.
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. 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).

Also 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'

In spite of cost-cutting and staff redundancies under Desmond's ownership, the loss of a large number of libel cases, and the concentration of front pages on arguably spurious news (see below), the Daily Express carries a banner on its front page saying "The World's Greatest Newspaper".

Sunday Express

The Sunday Express was launched in 1918. It is currently edited by Martin Townsend.

The Daily Express and the Daily Mail

The Daily Express has for many decades been a rival of the Daily Mail, and each frequently attacks the other's journalistic integrity. In the late 1990s, when Tony Blair's New Labour government was at its most popular, the Express attempted to reinvent itself somewhat: it developed a less stridently right wing political stance than the Mail and, under editor Rosie Boycott, presented an agenda to the left of the Mail's, referring to itself as "the voice of New Britain". However, the Boycott era was a very short-lived blip in the Express's long history, and since its acquisition by Richard Desmond the paper has moved back to the conservative right. It is known for its frequent headlines about immigration. It also focuses frequently on Muslims, in cases such as Aishah Azmi, a teacher who wore a burka, and the establishment of Shariah courts. In the 2001 general election it supported the Labour Party, but in 2004 it switched its support back to the Conservative Party, which had been its traditional political home for many decades.

Circulation figures according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations in December 2008 showed gross sales of its long-standing rival the Daily Mail are at 2,139,178, compared with 728,296 for the Daily Express.

Controversial themes

Dunblane Controversy

(See Sunday Express Dunblane controversy)

The Sunday Express Dunblane controversy began after the Scottish edition of the Sunday Express newspaper published a front page article critical of survivors of the Dunblane massacre.

The article, entitled "Anniversary Shame of Dunblane Survivors", criticised 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.

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 Eastbournemarker, England. The press, egged on by police leaks, unanimously declared Adams guilty except for Percy Hoskins, chief crime reporter for the Express. Hoskins was adamant that Adams was merely a naive doctor prosecuted by an overzealous detective, Herbert Hannam, who Hoskins disliked from previous cases. The Express, under Hoskins' direction, was therefore the only major paper to defend Adams, causing Lord Beaverbrook to frequently question Hoskins' stance on the matter. 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. The Express then carried an exclusive interview with Adams, who Hoskins interviewed 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.

"Diana Express"

The Daily Express has a reputation for consistently printing conspiracy theories based on the death of Princess Diana as front page news, earning it the nickname, the Daily Ex-Princess; this is often satirised in Private Eyemarker, the newspaper being labelled the Diana Express or the Di'ly Express, possibly due to Desmond's close friendship with regular Eye target Mohamed Fayed. 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."

"Madeleine Express"

In the second half of 2007 the Daily Express gave a large amount of coverage to the missing child 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. Of the 100, 82 of these were the main headline (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, but argued that the coverage needed to be toned down since daily headlines are not necessarily helpful. 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 involvement in their daughter's disappearance. One immediate consequence of the action was that Express Newspapers pulled all references to Madeleine from its websites.

In a settlement reached at the High Court of Justicemarker, 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. These apologies were described by media commentator Roy Greenslade as "unprecedented". The newspapers also agreed to pay costs and substantial damages, which the McCanns said they would use to fund the search for their daughter. 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." 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.


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


Present columnists:

Past columnists:

See also


  1. "'Vendetta against Royal Family': M.P. criticizes Lord Beaverbrook", The Times, London, 21 March 1962, p.5.
  2. "Royalty's Recourse", Time, New York, 30 March 1962.
  4. Peter Hitchens "Everything you write is complete ****," she says, "but I like you", New Statesman, 18 December 2000. Retrieved on 19 March 2008.
  5. Northern & Shell to axe 70 journalists from Express and Star titles,
  6. Express censured for fourth time in two weeks over undeclared advertorials, The Guardian, 19 August 2009
  7. McKinstry, Leo We Cannot Sit Back And Let Sharia Law Take Root In Britain, Daily Express, 30 April 2007.
  8. Cullen, Pamela V., "A Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr John Bodkin Adams", London, Elliott & Thompson, 2006, ISBN 1-904027-19-9
  9. Two Men Were Acquitted: The trial and acquittal of Doctor John Bodkin Adams, Secker & Warburg, 1984
  10. For instance in the "Hackwatch" column of Private Eye #1174, 19 December 2006.
  11. The Independent interview with Peter Hill 20 February 2006
  12. Libel payout for McCann friends 16 October 2008,BBC NEWS

  • Derek Jameson, ‘Matthews, Victor Collin, Baron Matthews (1919–1995)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 9 September 2007

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