Desmond: told staff not to enter
Express proprietor Richard Desmond, irked by criticism in media columns, has pulled his newspapers out of the British Press Awards.
Journalists and executives were in the process of assembling their entries for this year’s awards when a directive came from Desmond telling them not to enter.
"We were all geed up for it and dutifully photocopied our articles only to be told he wasn’t going to pay for them," said a senior writer.
The official reason is that Desmond feels it is "not appropriate" to enter this year. A spokesman said: "We have a serious job to do on the Express titles and do not feel it appropriate this year to be overindulging in mutual back-slapping with our rivals and friends at other newspapers. Naturally we wish the Press Gazette awards and everyone who wins them all the best for a memorable night."
Unofficially, however, Desmond is known to be angry at media criticism and ridicule, most recently of the Sunday Express’s Rich List, which named him as "the eighth richest person in Britain".
He is known to loathe media industry events, feels like an outsider and is determined to break the mould and do it his way, as one insider put it.
Journalists across the three titles are disappointed at being banned from entering "the Oscars of British Journalism".
Awards chairman Jonathan Grun, editor of the Press Association, said he hoped they would enter again next year. "It’s a celebration of the best of British journalism. I hope this is only a temporary break and we will look forward to welcoming them back into the awards next year."
Journalists who are not invited to join their newspaper’s table and who would like to go to the awards dinner should contact organiser Angie Reid on 020 8565 4392 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Philippa Kennedy