- The Labour Party has become embroiled in a bitter dispute with the Daily Telegraph after claiming that the paper banned an ad for political reasons.
BMP DDB, Labour's agency of record, booked a full-page ad in the Telegraph urging disillusioned Tory supporters to join Labour. Headed: "Do you believe in a One Nation party?", it was due to run on Monday, the first day of the Tory party conference in Blackpool.
Labour claimed that a Telegraph executive had said some of the paper's readers might find an ad by the party "offensive". Labour officials also alleged the Telegraph had raised the price of the ad from about £40,000 to more than £50,000. Margaret McDonagh, Labour's general secretary, rushed out a press statement saying: "We are disappointed that the Telegraph management is so scared of the power of Tony Blair's appeal that they prevented us from putting it in front of their readers."
However, the Telegraph angrily rejected Labour's claims as "defamatory" and "maliciously inspired." It demanded an apology by Labour and is considering legal action to recover more than £40,000 in lost revenue from the party.
The Telegraph insisted Labour had second thoughts about running the ad and then "invented a cover story to conceal its actions". The paper said it did not practice "political censorship" and was still happy to carry the ad.
It is believed that Labour did decide to pull the ad and that an over-zealous party official who "got the wrong end of the stick" sought to exploit what he believed was a veto by the Telegraph. Chris Powell, BMP's chairman, declined to comment.