26/09/2013 11:39 BST | Updated 25/11/2013 05:12 GMT

Why Do These People Hate the Daily Express?

"I would hope there'd be an earthquake," said poet Tim Wells sipping a pint outside The Walrus and The Carpenter pub on Lower Thames Street, London.

I'd just asked him what he hoped would happen to the Daily Express office across the road located in the Northern & Shell Building.

Tim was relaxing after reading a short poem at a protest against Daily Express owner Richard Desmond's tax affairs and the newspaper's coverage of immigration.

Around 50 people turned up for the protest at around 5.30pm on Monday to accuse the Express of demonising migrants and using them as economic scapegoats while at the same time funnelling company profits through tax havens in the Channel Islands and Luxembourg.


Speakers included Mark Thomas, comedian and activist, who called the Express's immigration coverage "racist fiction", saying the paper "sponges off migrants".

Green Party member of the London Assembly Jenny Jones accused the paper of being complicit in the government's agenda.

"This government we have now couldn't exist if it didn't peddle lies about people it wants us to be afraid of," she said. "They divide society and do nothing positive."

She also noted that Richard Desmond has owned adult magazines Asian Babes and Big Ones as well as softcore pornography channel Television X.

Chris Coltrane, 31, a stand-up comedian and UK Uncut member, told me why he came to the protest.

"The Daily Express is entitled to its own opinions but the Daily Express is not entitled to its own facts," he said.

"So many of the things they say are simply not true and it's just feeding into this narrative that migrants are to blame for everything -- that we're overpopulated, we're full -- and it's just not true."

He added: "The things they're saying are actually false, and when they print that on the front page of the newspaper and put it round the country that has a negative effect on society...The Daily Express is blaming migrants for all the evils of the world when actually it's migrants that are working and paying tax and contributing to the system that Richard Desmond doesn't contribute to."

During the protest a female Daily Star reporter approached the crowd saying she was a first generation immigrant.

Mark Thomas told her the protest was aimed at the paper's editorial line and not individual reporters.

When I tried talking to her she said she couldn't speak to me because she knew her boss was watching.


Guy Taylor, who organised the protest, said he was motivated by a "pathological hatred of the Daily Express".

"I work in immigration and it's a sector with no joy in it in many ways," he said. "Basically, it's really, really depressing and this was a little bit of humour and a little bit of jollity with the whole thing."

He admitted, however, that the protest would have "almost no impact whatsoever on the Daily Express".

"However, having said that, when you organise a protest it's not just about getting the people you're protesting against. It's to get things out and start debates, discussions and longer processes."

I asked him why he thinks the paper takes the editorial line it does.

"Primarily because they're scum," he said. "Basically, they are part of the establishment. They are part of keeping things how they are. Defending the status quo.

"When you've got people who are suffering through austerity, through immigration rules or whatever, they look for answers and if the answers that's given to them is that immigrants are to blame, some people accept that. Even people who suffer from some of the excesses of the immigration rules can basically think that illegal immigrants are the problem. It's all about divide and rule."