The Mail on Sunday's Sunday Tribune front cover

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The Irish division of the Mail on Sunday may face prosecution over it’s front page that bore the masthead of the rival Sunday Tribune. The Tribune ceased publishing last week and the Mail move was condemned as a naked grab to get their readers.

The National Consumer Agency in Ireland has confirmed that it is investigating complaints against the Associated Newspapers' Irish operation.

In a statement released yesterday the agency said: "Following further consideration, the National Consumer Agency is now considering a prosecution for a breach of the Consumer Protection Act. Accordingly, the agency will be making no further comment on this issue."

The Irish Mail on Sunday appeared on newsstands last Sunday with a front page which looked identical to the Sunday Tribune which went into receivership last week.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) is also lodging a formal complaint with the Consumer Protection Agency on the issue.

The Irish secretary of the NUJ described the cover as “crass and cynical”.

The Sunday Tribune editor Nóirín Hegarty said she was “appalled and shocked” by the move.

“The Mail On Sunday has shown in this act that it will leave no stone unturned in the race to the bottom,” she said.

"The Tribune management and staff and indeed Jim Luby the receiver are working flat out in the hope of keeping the newspaper afloat. We are talking about 43 jobs in Ireland here, not extra remuneration for Associated Newspapers back in the UK," Hegarty added.

Defending the move, Sebastian Hamilton the editor of the Irish Mail on Sunday said that the newspaper group was trying to appeal the Tribune readers and it was a mere marketing move.

“We want to protect those 161 Irish jobs by persuading as many Tribune readers as possible to keep buying newspapers. If today’s marketing exercise encourages more people to buy a paper today, surely that is something we should encourage.

“The Tribune was shut down by its owners, who also own the Sunday Independent. We want to offer Tribune readers a genuine alternative,” he added.

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