The Society of Editors has welcomed a decision by Virgin Trains to reverse a ban on the Daily Mail being stocked onboard its West Coast stops.
The U-turn, announced today in a blog post by founder Richard Branson, came after widespread criticism of the decision last week.
Ian Murray, Executive Director of the Society praised the decision.
He said: “The Society of Editors welcomes the decision by Richard Branson and Virgin Trains to reconsider their decision.
“The decision to ban any publication is an affront to customers’ freedom of choice and, in a liberal society, goes against the principle of freedom of speech. Branson’s intervention on this importance point of principle is welcomed.”
It was announced last week that Virgin had made the decision to no longer stock the Daily Mail on its West Coast trains after staff complaints about its stance on immigration and LGBT rights.
Posted on a blog this morning, Branson said that he had instructed the company to “reconsider their decision” and restock the paper while they “undertake a full review of their sales policy, making clear that this policy should not single out individual media titles.”
He wrote: “The decision was made in response to feedback from some of our Virgin Trains employees. Brian [Souter] and I respect our people when they make decisions and we listen to their views.
“But we must also listen to the concerns voiced widely this week – by those who agree with The Mail’s editorial stance and those who vehemently disagree with it – that this move has been seen as censorship.
“Freedom of speech, freedom of choice and tolerance for differing views are the core principles of any free and open society.
“While Virgin Trains has always said that their passengers are free to read whatever newspaper they choose on board West Coast trains, it is clear that on this occasion the decision to no longer sell The Mail has not been seen to live up to these principles.
“Brian and I agree that we must not ever be seen to be censoring what our customers read and influencing their freedom of choice. Nor must we be seen to be moralising on behalf of others.
“Instead we should stand up for the values we hold dear and defend them publicly, as I have done with The Mail on many issues over the years.”