Inform North: meant to motivate
The publisher of an independent magazine for entrepreneurs has been hit with legal action by the Newcastle Chronicle and Journal, which publishes its own business title, Enterprise North East. Mike Storey quit his job as regional publications manager at the Newcastle company in August to join an IT company, which he soon left to launch the bimonthly Inform North.
Its aim was to motivate people in the North East to be more entrepreneurial. The magazine was distributed free at outlets including libraries, job centres, post offices and supermarkets and had a print run of 15,000.
But three weeks after the first issue, Storey was contacted by solicitors acting for the Newcastle Chronicle and Journal. He said he was threatened with an injunction and has now given an undertaking that he would not publish the second issue until Thursday 19 December.
David Rowland, human resources director for the newspaper company, said: "Newcastle Chronicle and Journal Limited has invoked a restraint clause and confidentiality clause in Mr Mike Storey’s contract. Before he left the company, Mr Storey downloaded confidential information from his computer which we believe was to assist in the set-up of his own competitive publication. We have therefore instructed our solicitor to pursue this matter."
Storey, who has put £20,000 of his own cash into the venture, denied the allegations and accused the company of bullying tactics. He has taken legal advice and said he is determined to carry on with the magazine, but feared legal bills could eventually put him out of business. "Even if I win the case, it will still cost me £5,000 to £7,000 in solicitors’ fees. They are using a hammer to crack a nut."
Storey claimed that although he knew there was a launch in the pipeline while he was working at The Journal, he was not involved because of his impending departure.
"I was determined to publish a magazine that was different to anything in the North East and I took steps to see it was not a business magazine," he said.
By Ruth Addicott