'What's the risk in having fun?' Loaded journalists owed thousands

The bankruptcy of Loaded publisher Blue Publishing has left at least 15 journalists and photographers thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Well-placed sources have estimated that more than £50,000 is owed to 15 journalists, with some unpaid for up to three months of work.

Owner Paul Baxendale-Walker is now listed as a director of Loaded Media Limited. The new publisher of Loaded and SuperBike was incorporated on 25 April.

Press Gazette understands Companies House is yet to be informed of Blue Publishing’s administration and is awaiting its overdue annual returns.

According to an email sent by Blue Publishing’s former MD, Baxendale-Walker himself claims to be owed £4.5m.

Baxendale-Walker initially bought Loaded in April 2012 after its previous owner, Vitality Publishing, entered administration with debts of almost £1m.

After establishing Blue Publishing on 1 May 2012, Baxendale-Walker:

• Made ex-News of the World journalist Ian Edmondson editor in May 2012

• Unveiled plans for a Loaded training scheme in September 2012

• Started Loaded TV in November 2012

• Launched a new Formula 1 magazine, Formula, in January 2013

• Launched men’s weekly Zip in March 2013 after failing to buy Zoo and Nuts

• Announced plans to launch a new women’s title, Rush, in March 2013.

In March 2013 he told Press Gazette of plans for a series of new titles, and batted away suggestions he was taking a risk by investing in the magazine market: “What’s the risk in having fun?”

Asked what would happen if things went wrong, he said: “We’ve got such a low cost of operation it’s very difficult for that to happen.”

However, Zip magazine was axed in May after nine issues, resulting in ten job losses. It was said to be continuing online but the website has not been updated since 24 May.

Edmondson stepped down as Loaded editor on 23 May, a year after being appointed. The role was taken by Jamie Wallis, who was initially made redundant from Zip.

Meanwhile, Formula is up for sale and plans for a women’s title appear to have been dropped.

After contacting Baxendale-Walker, Press Gazette received the following statement:

“It is with great regret that Blue Publishing is in the process of administration despite considerable investment.

“The print magazine market is very challenging but it has been decided that titles should be rescued.

"Going forward Loaded Media Ltd is looking to develop digital strategies to engage with the online readers and enable future success.”

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