- Trade secretary Stephen Byers has cleared the sale of the Belfast Telegraph to Tony O'Reilly's Independent News & Media, waving aside objections that the move would compromise the paper's editorial line. Trinity had been forced to sell the Telegraph as a condition of its acquisition of Mirror Group, with Mr. O'Reilly's group agreeing to pay £300 million for the title.
However political concerns had been raised that Dublin-based Independent News & Media, which already owns the Independent and the Irish Independent, would bring an end to the paper's moderate Unionist positioning and lead to a loss of printing jobs north of the border.
The Ulster Unionist deputy leader John Taylor, who had led the opposition to the sale, backed Mr. Byers decision, saying he was, "pleased that almost all of the concerns which we had expressed appear to have been addressed." The compeition commission had found no reason to doubt Mr. O'Reilly'commitment towards editorial freedom.