The Sun has marked the World Cup by giving away 22million papers to English homes, unfortunately for Rupert Murdoch, some people really do not want his paper – even for free. And now it could face an investigation resulting in fines of over a billion pounds.
The 24-page tabloid is being delivered over the next two days, courtesy of Royal Mail, as "an unapologetic celebration of England."
But the paper, which remains controversial over its coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy, has been unceremoniously rejected by many homeowners and could have even fallen foul of the law.
Scores of people took to Twitter to show off handmade signs calling on posties not to deliver the free tabloid, while others commended the paper for not including a topless Page 3 model.
— Richard Stelling (@rjstelling) June 11, 2014
— Michele H Rashman (@MHRashman) June 12, 2014
Labour MP Tom Watson has launched a campaign against the paper's promotional efforts. He told the Huffington Post UK that he has been left "overwhelmed" by the support he has received.
The MP for West Bromwich East has now contacted the Royal Mail and Attorney General highlighting a possible breach of the Printers Imprint Act of 1961 and the Newspapers, Printers, and Reading Rooms Repeal Act 1869, asking for further investigation of the issue.
According to a letter sent by Mr Watson, copies of the paper apparently lack a legally required imprint which shows basic address and contact details of the Sun’s printer – with 22 million copies at up to £50 fine per copy, that’s a fine of up to £1.1 Billion.
Mr Watson said "the law seems to be pretty clear and in this case, rigid.
"I await to see how the Attorney General will enforce the law but until then, I'm sure Royal Mail will take the precautionary approach and halt distribution until the situation is clarified by Dominic Grieve.
The Sun told the Huffington Post they were aware of the issue.
Media law expert David Banks told HuffPost the law seemed like as "oddity".
"If The Sun loses a billion pounds over this I will eat my copy of The Sun in the offices of The Huffington Post for your photographers," he said.
— Leslie R. Woodhouse (@leswoodhouse) June 11, 2014
— Jessica Archbold (@Jellephant) June 12, 2014
Mr Watson told HuffPost UK: "When I realised the campaign wasn't being run in Wales and Scotland I thought, well why have the English got to suffer? So my pals set up a quick web site yesterday morning.
"In one day, 6,223 people have asked me to take the matter up with the Royal Mail.
"I guess The Sun is more unpopular than I guessed. I feel very sorry for the postal workers who are getting it in the neck from irritated customers."
— Liz Kirby (@thepoetliz) June 12, 2014
— Auntie Tiger (@TheBluestStar) June 12, 2014
— Ben LeGrys (@benlegrys) June 11, 2014
— Big Rob (@RobSkilbeck) June 12, 2014
— mightygwai (@mightygwai) June 12, 2014
Royal Mail accepted the deal to deliver the papers but said it would not deliver copies in Liverpool. However, some areas of Merseyside – such as Wirral – have the Chester postcode, while Southport has the Preston postcode and Skem shares the Wigan postcode.
The free promotion has faced the wrath of postmen at a Royal Mail branch in Liverpool, who are set to defy bosses by refusing to deliver copies of the paper.
Posties at the Skelmersdale office warned they would walk out after managers said there was no option but deliver it, the Liverpool Echo reported.
There has been a sustained campaign to boycott the newspaper on Merseyside since it published an article four days after the disaster, headlined "The Truth", which made allegations about fans' behaviour at Hillsborough.
It published a full page apology in 2004 and, in 2011, James Murdoch, the then executive chairman of its parent company News International, issued a further apology on the paper's behalf.
Despite the backlash, The Sun still remains the number one paper in the UK with an average circulation of 2.2million.
Although they were unable to provide an 'official' statement, The Sun's PR man wanted to point out that its free paper had in fact had plenty of support and helpfully sent the HuffPost UK some happy tweeters to prove that our headline was "absurd".
— deanrowntree (@fruitmyster) June 12, 2014
— Jay Wright (@BladderedBadger) June 12, 2014
— Tina Roof (@TinaLovesCelebz) June 12, 2014
— Ryan Plece (@Thee_Ry) June 12, 2014
Additionally, they included this photo of Labour leader Ed Miliband gleefully holding up his 'own' copy.
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