The Mail yesterday printed copies wrapped in a cover designed to look like the Tribune, using its masthead, after printing of the Tribune was suspended while a receiver attempts to find an investor for it.
Tribune editor Noirín Hegarty angrily attacked the Mail, accusing it of jeopardising the Tribune’s attempts to save the newspaper and its 43 staff.
“This attempt at burial of a still alive corpse and grave robbing by the Mail Group is a shameless act of commercial vandalism and I would beseech the fair-minded Irish Sunday newspaper audience to fight back by refusing to buy its titles,” she said.
However, the Mail, sister paper of the Irish Daily Mail, said it was simply trying to persuade as many Tribune readers as possible to keep buying newspapers. Editor of the Sunday edition Sebastian Hamilton said: “If today’s marketing exercise encourages more people to buy a paper today, surely that is something we should all encourage.”
The fake Tribune wrap- around is understood to have been printed for about 25,000 extra copies of the British-owned Mail, which sells around 112,000 weekly, and distributed to newsagents chiefly in Leinster, the Tribune’s main market.
Readers who bought the special edition by accident or design found the full normal Mail inside once they turned the front page, but some newsagents removed the cover before putting it on the shelves for fear of complaints from confused shoppers.
Seamus Dooley, of the NUJ, said: “This was an attempt to confuse readers and to cash in on the crisis at the Sunday Tribune in a crass manner.”
A spokesperson for the National Consumer Agency said the matter was being taken seriously and it was looking at whether the paper had breached consumer codes.