Go-it-alone editor presses ahead with revival despite legal threat

By
Jon Slattery Northcliffe has sent a solicitor’s letter to Stan
Szecowka, the ex-Bristol Evening Post deputy editor who is launching
his own paper in the city this week, warning him that he could be in
breach of contract.

Szecowka, axed by the Evening Post in June, is reviving the independent Clifton Chronicle weekly newspaper.

The
letter from Foot Ansty Alms & Young, solicitors for Northcliffe,
warned Szecowka that he could be in breach of restrictions in his
contract of employment and could face injunctions.

However, he
planned to press ahead with his launch on Thursday after taking legal
advice that said it was Northcliffe that had broken his contract.

Szecowka
told Press Gazette: “My legal advice is that Northcliffe severed my
contract and any restrictions in my contract, which I query, would be
null and void.

“If I cannot work within Northcliffe’s circulation area, the nearest place I could find work would be Birmingham.”

The paid-for Clifton Chronicle is launching with a print run of 10,000 copies and is being distributed by News International.

The Chronicle launched in 1850, but folded in 1928 because of a newsprint shortage.

Szecowka
has funded the launch of his new paper with the pay-off he was given by
Northcliffe after a 20-year career with the company. He was given 10
minutes to clear his desk after the summer shake-up, which also saw the
sudden departure of the Bristol Evening Post’s editor, Mike Lowe.

Replacement for Terry Manners

NEW EDITOR AT WESTERN DAILY PRESS

Andy
Wright, deputy editor of the Derby Evening Telegraph, has succeeded
Terry Manners as editor of the Western Daily Press in Bristol.

Wright
was news editor and then deputy at the Derby under Mike Norton, who
succeeded Mike Lowe as editor of the Bristol Evening Post in June.
Norton was also appointed to the new position of editor-in-chief of
Bristol, overseeing both the Evening Post and Western Daily Press.

Manners
resigned after four years as editor of the WDP on the day it was
announced that Northcliffe wanted to cut the number of posts at the
Bristol centre by 36 and was considering merging the subbing,
photographic and sports departments across the WDP and Evening Post
(Press Gazette, 28 October).

NUJ members at the Bristol Evening
Post are to hold a ballot to decide whether to strike in protest at the
threatened job losses. The NUJ chapel claims managers told staff that
there would be redundancies at the Post by Christmas, but would not
reveal whether these would be compulsory and what the selection
criteria would be.

NUJ national organiser Barry Fitzpatrick said:
“The anxiety level has been exacerbated by the fact that Northcliffe do
not give local management the authority to address the questions asked.
They have not given answers to the NUJ chapel’s legitimate concerns and
this is the consequence they face. They have only themselves to blame.”

Northcliffe has stressed no final decision had been made on the proposals to reduce staff numbers.

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