Compulsory Independent job cuts could be reduced as big names including Walsh, Lawton and Lichfield leave

The Independent is hopeful that the number of compulsory job losses at the paper will be reduced as negotiations over redundancies continue this week.

Earlier this month, the paper announced there would be 27 compulsory job losses as the paper and its Sunday sister title prepared for an autumn relaunch to focus on commentary and analysis.

But Doug Wills, managing editor of The Independent titles and London Evening Standard, told Press Gazette that the group hoped that more staff will opt for voluntary exits.

“We are hopeful that the number of compulsory redundancies will be less than we originally thought,” he said.

Several senior journalists are among those understood to be leaving the Independent.

Among these are chief sports writer James Lawton and former editor of The Independent magazine John Walsh, now a columnist and restaurant reviewer.

Chief editorial writer and columnist Mary Dejevsky is also thought to be leaving, along with Nairobi-based African correspondent Daniel Howden and Paris correspondent John Lichfield.

Two other columnists – Tom Sutcliffe and Hamish McRae – are also expected to leave the full-time roster, although McRae may stay on as an occasional contributor.

Negotiations about the redundancies are expected to continue this week as the National Union of Journalists balloted members over potential strike action.

The result of the vote is expected later this week, but Wills praised the character of staff at the paper.

He said: “It is a credit to the staff and journalists here that the spirit is as high as it’s ever been.”

News of the cuts came as The Independent announced a 20p cover price rise to £1.40 on weekdays, £1.80 on Saturdays and £2.20 on Sundays.

Chris Blackhurst, group content director at the paper, said last week the price rise and job cuts were “not unrelated”, explaining that it had to save money to reduce its losses. He said the paper was on target to make a loss of £11.8 million for the 12 months to October, down from £16.6 million last year.

Last week, Blackhurst and managing  director Andrew Mullins warned journalists at The Independent that the paper could face the closure of its print editions if the money-saving plan did not have the desired effect. 

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