Were you fooled? Richard Branson to buy Farne Islands is an April Fool

Were you pulled into our April Fool? Our thanks to the National Trust for being a good sport

Sir Richard Branson photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire Sir Richard Branson and seals on the Farne Islands

It's the day we traditionally play a joke to celebrate April Fool.

And we certainly played a blinder this year with our story about Richard Branson wanting to buy the Farne Islands.

Thousands have clicked on to our story today and were tricked into believing the Virgin billionaire had his eye on purchasing the North East beauty spot for a seven figure sum.

We told how Branson was wanting to build a luxury lodge for him to stay in when he visited the Virgin Money North East headquarters at the former Northern Rock building in Gosforth, Newcastle, which Branson’s Virgin Group added to its empire in 2007.

We teased and succeeded in making you believe that the exciting seabird colony was up for grabs.

It was said the Farne Islands sale would add to Branson’s Necker Island - the hideaway retreat in the British Virgin Islands where pop and film stars spend their secretive getaways.

The National Trust agreed to join in with the fun and went along with our hoax.

But they are pleased to announce it was only a joke saying the Farne Islands would never be sold off and are still open to the public.

A National Trust spokesman said: “Of course this is an April Fools. The National Trust is a charity whose core purpose is to look after special places like the Farne Islands for ever and for everyone. So even if somebody did want to buy the Islands, we could never sell them. We’ve been looking after the Farnes for 90 years this year and our work to look after this amazing wildlife habitat will continue. We’ve opened up to visitors for a new season on Saturday too, so you can come and see for yourself how special they are.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer