North West Enquirer closure leaves freelances unpaid

More than 70 freelance journalists owed money by North West Enquirer will not be paid unless a buyer for the paper is found, according to administrator Harrisons.

Several freelances have contacted Press Gazette reporting they are owed money, with some payments stretching back several months. The paper, which went into administration last week, paid rates of £120 per 1000 words.

Full-time staff are able to claim statutory pay from the Government of around £290 a week.

Administrator John Sallabank said: "We will be reporting to all creditors, which we have to do under the Insolvency Act. The only assets the company has are desks, chairs, computer equipment and whatever value is in the name and the website.

"The realisation from those won't be sufficient to pay creditors anything — unless someone buys the company for a lump of money.

One former Enquirer freelance said: "They took quite a few stories from me and promised payment, but I haven't seen anything at all. They were very happy to commission people to do stuff.

"I talked to the staff who said they were under the impression they were commissioning in good faith and that invoices were being paid."

The Enquirer's managing director, Nick Jaspan, said: "I'm hoping the bulk of the full-time staff will be able to get back around two-thirds of what they would have been paid anyway in September. It's a shortfall, but it's not horrendous. Unfortunately, it doesn't look good for the freelances."

According to the adminstrator, no-one has yet made a firm offer to buy the Enquirer, but three parties have expressed an interest.

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