How-Do, a media website covering the North West of England, has suspended operations amid an acrimonious dispute with 2011 merger partner Manchester Confidential.
The news was confirmed in a statement posted on the website this morning and has resulted in four staff, including two in editorial, losing their jobs.
Publisher Nick Jaspan blamed the development on the impact of the site's November 2011 merger with the publisher of Manchester Confidential. He said the deal 'appeared to offer an option enabling in-house technical support and enhanced levels of sales activity'but claimed 'several key matters were not disclosed'during last year's merger discussions.
Jaspan said that once he 'belatedly discovered the true nature of the situation'he took professional advice and decided to exit the merger at the end of January.
Manchester Confidential proprietor Mark Garner, however, claimed he saved How-Do from liquidation and that on 11 November 2011 an agreement was reached between him and Jaspan in which he would take a 90 per cent stake in How-Do.
The deal saw the two publishers operate from the Confidential offices at Quay House in Manchester and Garner set up a company called How-Do Limited.
As part of the deal Garner said he rolled his publishing assets into How-Do Limited and his former operating business CPub was put into liquidation.
But Jaspan announced his resignation from the company on 31 January saying he was alarmed by CPub being placed into liquidation, and set up a new company called Northern Publishing Limited which was used to run both the How-Do Awards and the How-Do website.
Garner claims ownership of both the website and the awards and his lawyers have been handling the dispute since February.
'Simply put if it hadn't been for our actions How-Do would have been wound up and liquidated in November 2011,'said Garner.
Jaspan said that a number of emails had been sent out by Garner to How-Do subscribers, and that the "increasing number and the nature of the emails'had 'tested the enormous reservoir of goodwill that exists in the North West towards How-Do", adding: 'With no end in sight to this dispute and as we are unable to mitigate against the ongoing email tirades, we have decided to suspend publication and related activities until a resolution is reached.'
He said: 'Despite prompting from numerous parties to consider legal action for defamation, our legal advice was that any libel action would prove fruitless as no costs were likely to be recovered.'
Garner, meanwhile, told Press Gazette that he is going to the police because he believes corporate assets have been taken from him.
How-Do launched on 30th March 2007 and claims to average more than one million page views a month and 50,000 unique visitors.