Soft-porn purveyor and owner of Britain's Express Group newspapers Richard Desmond made a £100,000 (€160,282; $145,888) donation to Britain’s governing Labour Party just prior to the 2001 general election – and days before the Department of Industry approved his purchase of the Express titles, it has emerged.

Desmond – previously an active supporter of the Conservative Party – made the pledge after Labour turned down an offer from his Northern & Shell publishing empire of free advertising in its newspapers.

Northern & Shell declared that the cash had nevertheless been spent on advertising in its titles (but presumably not in such offerings as Nude Readers’ Wives and Asian Babes). The Daily Express supported Labour in the election campaign.

However, Stephen Byers, minister for trade and industry at the time at the time of the ‘gift’, denied that the top-shelf tsar’s donation had any bearing on the DTI’s approval of his purchase of the Express Group.

Data sourced from:; BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff