Hartlepool Mail deputy editor Neil Hunter has resigned and taken a considerable pay cut to join The Northern Echo as a deputy news editor.
Hunter, 32, who has been at the paper for six years, declined to comment, but colleagues said he had become disillusioned with what had been going on at the Mail during the inquiry by owners Johnston Press into alleged gross misconduct by editor Harry Blackwood.
Six other journalists are thought to be on the verge of resigning.
Blackwood’s fate should be sealed this week when Johnston completes the inquiry. He is currently on a three-month contract with The Mail on Sunday to write a column for its northern edition under the strapline “The Man Mandelson couldn’t silence”.