Exaro News has closed just days after being declared “open for business” by its freshly appointed joint-head of news.
Owners News Sparta took a snap decision to close the investigative news agency yesterday, Press Gazette understands.
- October 8, 2019
- October 7, 2019
- July 26, 2019
A board meeting at midday resulted in the doors closing for the final time at 5pm in what head of Exaro News David Hencke has described as “like something from Goldman Sachs”.
Exaro News employs six editorial staff comprised of freelances and staffers as well as various other contributors.
Hencke said: “We are absolutely devastated.
“We were going ahead with plans and had only just put up a story the previous day, with a lot more in the pipeline, and suddenly we are told it’s closed just like that.”
Despite the sudden closure, Hencke praised owner Jerome Booth, saying: “He has funded it very generously for years and never interfered editorially.”
Former editor Mark Watts was fired last month.
He told Press Gazette this morning: “The management has made itself a laughing stock by closing just days announcing that it was ‘open for business’.
“To just shut it like that is an act of mindless vandalism.”
He urged owner Booth, a successful investor and economist, to issue a statement assuring staff and freelances that outstanding payments will be honoured.
In an interview with Press Gazette on Monday following the firing of editor Watts, former Guardian journalist Hencke declared the agency “open for business”.
He and Mark Conrad had been appointed to run the investigative team, following Watts’s departure.
Exaro launched in 2011 and has attracted criticism over the last year for its coverage of historic claims that high-profile political figures were involved in child abuse.
In March this year the Met Police closed down the Operation Midland inquiry which looked at some of the allegations raised by Exaro with no charges made.