Journalists at The Argus, Brighton, were this week writing to the paper's editor and managing director to raise their concern over the possible redundancy of award-winning crime reporter Phil Mills.
Mills, who has worked on The Argus for 26 years, cleared his desk last Friday after being told he was being considered for redundancy.
- July 26, 2017
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He was this week said to be on ‘gardening leave' while the proposed redundancy is being considered.
Mills received a letter from editor Michael Beard last Thursday before being called in to a short meeting with him at 8am on Friday. Mills regularly came in at that time to receive police calls as part of his crime beat.
He is one of the most respected journalists on The Argus, with ‘excellent contacts' with the police, local MPs and in the business community.
Although Mills is not a member of the NUJ, the decision to write the letter was taken at a union chapel meeting this week.
It is understood that the letter to Beard and Argus MD Martyn Lewis will express the journalists' concern that such a well-respected journalist as Mills, who has been a loyal member of staff, could be considered for redundancy.
Argus journalists are also concerned that the post of crime reporter could be made redundant on a daily newspaper.
A source said of Mills: "People here are really angry and unhappy. He's our main man. He's like the figurehead of the paper.
"There are also very unhappy people in the community, who have heard about it and may not talk to us [on stories now].
"Every few months they've been making someone redundant and saying they're not having any more for the foreseeable future and then in another three months, somebody else goes."
Another added: "Mills is top quality and could easily have worked for the nationals. His knowledge and talent will be impossible to replace, but I doubt that will worry the accountants."
Argus journalists are also concerned about the possible redundancy of a long-serving reporter on the Leader series of weeklies.
Beard declined to comment to Press Gazette.