John Sweeney has resigned as a columnist for The Oldie following the departure of his “hero” Richard Ingrams as editor.
The BBC Panorama reporter announced the decision to other Oldie contributors in an email this afternoon.
The news comes after other contributors sent a letter to the magazine’s board, including publisher James Pembroke, yesterday asking that Ingrams be taken back as editor.
After being summoned to a disciplinary hearing brought by the publisher, Ingrams announced his resignation last Friday. This week, however, he has indicated he would be willing to take his job back under the right conditions.
Sweeney’s departure comes after broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan announced he would no longer be hosting the Oldie’s annual awards lunch with Ingrams gone as editor.
In an email to fellow contributors, including acting editor Jeremy Lewis, Sweeney said: “I've hugely enjoyed writing for The Oldie and I'd like to thank James Pembroke, the staff and all for everything. But I've been meaning to sack myself from my column for some time so now is as good a time as any.
“As for Richard Ingrams, he is a national disgrace thrice-cursed, a 76-year-old man who behaves like a spotty teenager, cantankerous, irascible and, in any decent country, would be taken out and shot. But he was, is, and always will be to me, a hero. I came in with him, and I go out with him.”
Last Friday, Sweeney told Press Gazette: “Richard Ingrams is probably the greatest print editor I’ve ever worked for. Brilliant, extraordinarily brave, always up for trouble and… one of God's great squad of awkward Englishmen…
“He was also a man of good judgement. And this very rare quality in Fleet Street, a kind man.”
He added: “He’s… been a consistent supporter of my reporting on Scientology, including in the latest issue [of The Oldie]. In a way that other editors would rather saw their own heads off, Richard would gaily print stuff which the Church of Scientology really would detest…
“There isn’t anybody like him in the world. It’s a sad day. Carter Ruck, the Church of Scientology, the late Jimmy Savile, they’ll all be happy.”