Axed magazine editor issued with 'bizarre' writ by former employers

A sacked magazine editor has been issued with a “bizarre” writ by his former employers after returning home to find a bailiff on his doorstep.

Robin Stummer, the founder and former editor of architectural conservation magazine Cornerstone, has been told by the axed magazine's former publishers to take down its website and Facebook page.

Stummer said he was "astonished" by the request to remove a website with a personal title - www.robinstummer.net - and Facebook page with 51 'likes'.

"We’re all amazed that you can, in this day and age, send out a high court writ to a journalist forcing them to remove pages that clearly don’t cause any harm,” he told Press Gazette.
 
“They’re basically beacons for anyone who likes the magazine to get in touch with me. That’s all.
 
“We had them both checked over by a senior barrister and there’s nothing in there that anyone could object to. They’re basically typical fan pages.”
 
He added: “To try and wipe out the memory of the magazine is extraordinary. There’s no point looking for any logic in it because there isn’t any logic.”

Separately, Stummer is taking the charity to court in January claiming unfair dismissal after he lost his job when the magazine was axed in July.

He told Press Gazette that the writ feels like a “bargaining chip”.

He claims he was given “no reason” for the termination of his contract and insists the magazine, as well as being popular with SPAB members, “rode the recession” and was in a strong financial position.

Stummer says Cornerstone, founded in 2004, was popular with members, particularly for its reporting on the proposed HS2 train line.

"It’s certainly true that getting rid of me, ceasing the magazine, the only detailed reporting on the harm of HS2 has gone," Stummer said.

"For a small magazine Cornerstone became very well known and influential. Back in 2002/03 I ran a focused campaign on the potential heritage harm in expanding airports, very successful.

"There is, or was, no magazine like it. It's frightening how easily a title can be snuffed out, even when it's doing so well."

The charity has replaced Cornerstone with a new quarterly title called SPAB Magazine.

SPAB is also demanding that Stummer hand over tens of thousands of photographs taken for the magazine.

Stummer has told the charity that copyright law means the rights to the pictures belong to the photographers. He also claims the charity has not told him what it plans to do with the images.

Stummer was served with the writ on Friday 16 November at his home in London and he has questioned whether the use of such legal tactics was a worthwhile use of charity funds.

“You wonder what a charity is doing spending that amount of money to silence a journalist,” he told Press Gazette.

“The whole thing was just bizarre and annoying, but now it has been encapsulated in a high court writ.”

After Press Gazette put Stummer's comments to SPAB – along with a number of questions – a spokesperson said: “At present there is really nothing we can say other than the fact that, as a journalist, you will obviously appreciate there are two sides to every story.”

MORE ON THIS STORY : 

Sign up for our free weekly digital magazine, Press Gazette Journalism Weekly, and daily newsletter
To contact Press Gazette with a story call 0207 936 6433
or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk
To advertise, please call 0207 936 6764.