Desmond's pay tops £46m for past year

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Richard Desmond, the owner of Express Newspapers, paid himself more than £46m last year, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

Richard Desmond, the owner of Express Newspapers, paid himself more than £46m last year, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

The self-made millionaire received a £15.1m salary and benefits in 2003, up from £629,000 the year before. He also benefited from a £31.1m pension payment, up from £20.3m in 2002.

In an interview with The Independent today, Mr Desmond declares: "It is never wrong to take cash if it's there."

Details of Mr Desmond's pay packet will be revealed today when his media empire, Northern & Shell, files annual reports. The company comprises the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star newspapers, as well as magazine and television interests. It is controlled by RCD1, his privately owned holding company.

Northern & Shell will show an operating profit of £45.8m in 2003. However, once Mr Desmond's pay together with other charges and interest are taken into account, that becomes a £3.2m loss. The company made a profit of £16.6m in 2002.

"Northern & Shell is a privately owned, single shareholder, business. Richard Desmond takes out and puts in what is required to run the business," a spokeswoman said.

She added the company was expecting an announcement this week from the Office of Fair Trading about Associated Newspapers' distribution of the Evening Standard and Metro newspapers in London.

The Northern & Shell boss wants to publish a rival to the Standard but needs to break Associated's grip on distribution.

Interview, MediaWeekly

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