EXCLUSIVE: Shops urged to shun ‘toxic’ conspiracy paper 

The paper includes Covid-19 conspiracy theories and articles written by Holocaust deniers

Anti-extremism organisation Hope Not Hate has urged newsagents to refuse to stock a “toxic” conspiracy theory ‘truthpaper’ accused of antisemitism and promoting white supremacists. 

Free monthly paper The Light claims to distribute more than 100,000 copies. 

Messages seen by our sister title RN show that convincing local shops to put the title on their stands is a key part of the title’s strategy. 

Speaking to volunteers, editor Darren Smith said he wants the title to be “in as many newsagents in the UK as we can… This should be our basic aim”. 

A spokesperson for Hope Not Hate told RN: “The Light mimics the format of legitimate newspapers, and relies on newsagents not knowing what’s been placed on their shelves for customers to pick up. 

“With a better knowledge of just how The Light is, we hope that newsagents will be able to spot this toxic publication and put it in the bin, where it belongs.” 

Editions have included articles by Holocaust deniers. The title also defended an individual who said Jews were “rats” who “deserve to be wiped out”. 

It has also promoted material from neo-Nazis and former BNP member Mark Collett, who now leads white nationalist organisation Patriotic Alternative. 

In its most recent edition, The Light claimed, without evidence, that potential refugees represented a threat to women. 

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Other common topics include climate-change denial and Covid-19-related conspiracies. 

In one example, sister title The Irish Light published images of 42 individuals it claimed had died due to complications from Covid-19 vaccines. 

The deceased pictured actually died from incidents including car accidents and drowning. 

One of those pictured was 18-year-old Diego Gilsenan, who died by suicide. 

Last week, his mother secured a restraining order against The Irish Light and its editor, Gemma O’Doherty, as part of a pending case to prevent the newspaper using Diego’s image. The accusations are denied by O’Doherty. 

One independent shop owner from Belfast stocking the title told RN they were “not aware” of the title’s antisemitism, but vowed to continue stocking it. “We don’t force anyone to take it,” they said. 

However, in many instances, copies have been placed in stores without the retailer’s permission; in others, the store owners claimed they were not told about the material within the publication. 

Last year, the Doncaster Free Press reported that newsagents had been “duped” into giving away the title. 

Asked how often it is contacted by shoppers who have found copies in independent stores, Hope Not Hate said it is being “repeatedly contacted by concerned members of the public”. 

Darren Jones, editor of The Light, failed to provide a comment when approached by RN.

Read more news and advice about the newspaper and magazines category and click here for the latest ABC circulation figures


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