People's champ leaves NoW in censorship row

Cash & Parry: names were pulled

News of the World consumer columnist Vivienne Parry has left abruptly after a row over the removal of the names of two major advertisers from an article on her page.

The article in the Cash & Parry column, about expensive retailers’ warranties and the way refunds are handled, mentioned Dixons, Comet and Powerhouse.

But in the final version that appeared in last Sunday’s paper, the names of Dixons and Comet had been removed and only Powerhouse remained.

A furious Parry, who earns £75,000 a year from the NoW, fired off a blistering e-mail to editor Rebekah Wade accusing senior executives of "rolling over cravenly" in the face of pressure from the ad department and demanded to know who was running the paper "you or the ad department?".

Parry, tagged as "The People’s Champion", declined to comment on the manner of her departure. She has told friends, however, that she was determined to make a "principled stand".

Wade refuted Parry’s claims that the newspaper pandered to advertisers. Her issue with Parry was that she was unavailable to answer queries on Saturday when executives tried many times to contact her. In fact, Wade arrived in the office on Tuesday expecting an apology from the columnist for being uncontactable only to be faced with an e-mail "that could have been taken as a resignation letter" copied to "the world and his wife".

"Upsetting advertisers isn’t a problem. I have taken ads out of the paper if they are inappropriate next to a particular story. And we lost £3m worth of advertising because of Mike Rutherford’s campaign against Ford’s aftercare so nobody can accuse us of kowtowing to advertisers," said Wade.

"But if we are going to take on big advertisers I like to know that we’ve got it right. I wanted my lawyer to go through piece by piece with her on the telephone and make sure she had it 100 per cent. I have to be able to defend it.

"I expect all columnists to be available on the telephone 24 hours on a Saturday. I can ring Michael Winner in the middle of the night in Barbados and there’s never a problem. I simply don’t want to pay someone that kind of money if she treats the paper with such disdain."

Parry said her page was proofed and legalled before she left for the weekend.

By Philippa Kennedy

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