Darren Styles, a shareholder and former publisher of Attitude, has criticised Sainsbury’s for covering up gay magazines, while previously leaving a scantily clad photo on the front of FHM uncensored.

Coronation Street actor Antony Cotton yesterday mocked the decision, made by a Sainsbury’s store in Salford, and tweeted images of GT and Attitude covered up with ‘modesty’ screens.

A reply from the store on Twitter read: “Hi Antony, we cover a broad range of mags, not just Attitude and GT. We understand your feelings and will review this. Thanks.”

After receiving the message from the store, he returned to see they appeared to have hastily made a new laminated screen for FHM, rather than uncover the others.

Darren Styles, who is now the Publishing Editor of new gay magazine Winq, said it was a “random act of censorship based on a personal prejudice”.

He told PinkNews.co.uk: “My father was a newsagent for 25 years and when the ‘modesty board’ law came into effect he had to construct a panel to screen top shelf titles from the eyes of children buying comics from the bottom shelf.

“THAT’S what the law was designed to do – not to invite any individual or retailer to exercise a random act of censorship based on a personal prejudice – which is exactly what this is.

“Obscenity laws and a whole range of press guidelines already exist to define what can and can’t be published or made available for unrestricted access. Any or all of the necessary protections are in place.”

He added: “It is no more a retailer’s place to decide that a shirtless man is offensive than it is to remove meat from the shelves for fear of offending vegetarians. In the way a magazine is merely the conduit for a story rather than the story itself, the retailer is merely the route to market, not the market itself.”

UPDATE:

A Sainsburys spokesperson told PinkNews.co.uk: “We use modesty covers for a wide range of magazines. That includes publications like Loaded, Zoo, Bizarre, Front, Nuts & Attitude.

“We do regularly review the titles covered in conjunction with the publishers themselves. We’ll look into this.”