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Wednesday, January 20, 1999 Published at 14:40 GMT


UK Politics

Tories condemn Express sackings


A group of six Conservative MPs have registered a formal protest over the sacking of senior staff at The Sunday Express.

The Tories insist the dismissals are linked to a controversial article on the former Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson.

The Bromsgrove MP Julie Kirkbride, a former Daily Telegraph political correspondent, tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons.

It "notes with concern the summary dismissal of Ian Walker, executive editor of the Sunday Express and the attempted demotion of Amanda Platell, executive editor of The Sunday Express".

It adds that this happened "only weeks after the newspaper revealed details of the Right Honourable Member for Hartlepool's trip to Brazil and his friendship with Reinaldo Aliva da Silva".

The motion goes to claim Lord Hollick, the "proprietor of the Sunday Express, Labour peer and former adviser to the Right Hon Member for Hartlepool, exerted pressure on the editors of The Sunday Express to water down their story".

It calls on the government "to support an open and free press and hopes there will be no further resignations from the Sunday Express".

The EDM further says a "senior journalist" was forced to leave The Sun after making public comments about Mr Mandelson and points to the resignation of the chancellor's former press secretary, Charlie Whelan, after he was accused of leaking information against the former trade secretary in the home-a-loan row.

The other signatories to the motion are Nick Hawkins, Howard Flight, Owen Paterson, Gerald Howarth and John Bercow.



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