The Mail on Sunday has come under attack for giving out 15-rated DVDs, forcing retailers to check the age of customers buying newspapers.

The Big Sleep was given out free with a recent edition of the Mail on Sunday, along with a letter from sales manager Chris Underhill. It said: “Please make (sure) all your staff who are working on Sunday are fully aware of the need to restrict sales to people aged over 15.” He added that it had protected paperboys and girls by polybagging the paper and DVD.

Royston Spinks, who runs a Spar in St Osyth, Clacton-on-Sea, said it was another burden on over-worked retailers. “It adds to the decisions we already have to make about not selling teenagers lottery tickets, cigarettes and alcohol. They should give these things more thought.”

A spokeswoman from local authorities body LACORS said it was in discussion with groups to try to clarify the situation.