Readers from British publisher Express Newspapers are advised to look away now.

Richard Desmond, the controversial owner of EN and an empire of such ‘adult’ titles as Asian Babes, paid himself almost £9 million ($14m; €14m) last year, despite seemingly endless cutbacks at the group’s national newspapers – the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star.

The generous award comprises a £5.7m salary plus £3.1m in pension contributions, taking the overall package to £8.8m.

According to its annual report filed with Companies House, Desmond’s holding company, RCD1 Ltd, quadrupled pre-tax profits in 2001 to £20.8m, up from £5m the year before. Over three-quarters of its earnings came from its pay-per-view broadcast operations, including such upstanding fare as the Fantasy Channel.

At the group’s national print titles, operating profits rose from £4m to £11.3m, boosted by cuts in admin costs worth £20m. An eye-watering £6m was slashed from the wages bill alone, after hundreds of layoffs.

Desmond’s reward to himself is unlikely to quell the mutinous mood at the Express titles, which earlier this year saw staff threaten to strike over pay [WAMN: 18-Mar-02].

Plans revealed last week to shift up to 100 editorial and production jobs from London to Lancashire in order to save on office rental have prompted similar threats.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff