West Highland Free Press to be taken over by its staff

The West Highland Free Press will become one of the UK’s only employee owned newspapers after its current owners agreed to sell the title to its staff.

With backing from Baxi Partnership, an employee ownership investment vehicle, ten employees will purchase the title from the paper’s founders, who include former Labour MP and government minister Brian Wilson.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed for paper based in the Isle of Skye.

Founded in 1972 as a left-wing weekly the paper has championed causes including promotion of the Gaelic language and campaigning on environmental issues and land reform.

According to the latest ABC figures, the paid-for title circulated on average 8,519 copies each week in the first half of this year.

The new ownership system will see WHFP set up an employee benefits trust to hold the staff’s shares and maintain the paper’s independence.

Employees of the paper are keen to develop digital platforms further and add a news agency.

Ian McCormack, editor of the WHFP, said: ‘Instead of having decisions imposed we will all be able to contribute to a greater extent and embracing new ideas and tapping the imagination of the employees is going to be the key driver of the paper going forward.”

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