Northcliffe is reported to the OFT by Bristol rival

By Jon Slattery and Sarah Lagan

The editor of a new independent weekly paper in Bristol has
complained to the Office of Fair Trading, alleging that the city’s
Northcliffe-owned Evening Post, is trying to obstruct sales of his
paper.

Stan Szecowka, who launched the Clifton Chronicle on 3 November,
claims pressure is being put on newsagents in the city to remove the
paper from their counters.

He has told the OFT that a newsagent
in Clifton Village had three visits from the Evening Post’s
representatives in one week in an attempt to get him to remove copies
of the Clifton Chronicle from his counter.

Szecowka has also
alleged that at a WH Smith store in Clifton, copies of the Chronicle
were removed from their position near the till by a Northcliffe
employee and placed upside down and away from customers.

The
complaint also alleges that the Evening Post lifted quotes from a
frontpage story in the Chronicle, without permission and without a
credit, and published them in a story on the same day in a bid to spoil
sales.

Szecowka revived the Chronicle, which had folded in 1928, after being axed as deputy editor of the Evening Post in June.

He
said: “I am annoyed at not being allowed to move on and forget my
former employer. It’s not as if I haven’t got enough to contend with
trying to get a decent paper out each week.”

John Woodcock of The Mall Newsagents in Clifton is mentioned in the complaint to the OFT.

He
told Press Gazette: “I have had representatives in from the Bristol
Evening Post who have asked me to take the Clifton Chronicle off the
front counter and put the Evening Post in its place.

“Stan has
got my full support and the paper will stay in the prime selling spot,
especially as he is just getting on his feet. We have consistently sold
every copy of the Chronicle that has been sent to us and we will
actively promote it to our customers.”

Bristol United Press managing director Tim Kitchen told Press Gazette: “I am not commenting at this stage.”

Before
Szecowka launched the Chronicle, Northcliffe sent him a legal letter,
warning he could be in breach of contract and could face injunctions.

He
went ahead after taking legal advice that said Northcliffe had severed
his contract when they sacked him and told him to clear his desk within
10 minutes.

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