The editor-in-chief at The Scotsman is on leave, pending talks about his future with the paper's publishers, Johnston Press.
John McLellan – whose responsibilities also extended to Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News – has been placed on leave, as part of a wider proposed culling of posts.
Says an memo issued by Johnston Press's managing director for Scotland, Andrew Richardson, the editor-in-chief post at The Scotsman Publications Ltd “will cease to exist”. It continues: “The editors of each title will report directly to the managing director of the Scottish Publishing Unit. John McLellan has been placed on leave and is in consultation with the company. Further announcements on the editorship of The Scotsman will be made in due course.”
But it doesn't end there. The role of managing director of local newspapers division, Angus County Press, occupied by Angus Morrison, has also been earmarked for the axe, as is the post of divisional newspaper sales director, occupied by Keith McIntyre.
Adds the memo: “This role [of managing director, Angus County Press Ltd] will cease to exist and editors and managers currently reporting into this role will now report directly to the managing director of the Scottish Publishing Unit. Angus Morrison has been placed on leave and is in consultation with the company. A further announcement will be made in due course.
“[The divisional newspaper sales director] will role will cease to exist and managers currently reporting to this role will now report directly to the managing director of the Scottish Publishing Unit. Keith McIntyre has been placed on leave and is in consultation with the company. A further announcement will be made in due course.”
allmediascotland has attempted, without success, to contact McLellan. It is understood his impromptu speech to staff received a rousing ovation.
It is understood Ian Stewart, editor of Scotland on Sunday, has been made acting edtor of The Scotsman.
Richardson was made managing director of Johnston Press's Scotland division in February.
Update: same day, 5pm: The NUJ chapel at The Scotsman Publications Ltd, issued the following statement: “Following an emergency chapel meeting, the joint chapel of The Scotsman Publications would like to register – in the strongest possible terms – our anger and disbelief at the appalling manner in which our editor-in-chief has been treated by the management of Johnston Press.
“John McLellan is an internationally-respected journalist and editor who is held in the highest esteem by his staff – if not by his bosses.
“He has given tirelessly to this company over the years in the belief that, whatever strictures may be placed upon us, we should always produce the best possible product for our readers – a belief he has instilled in each and every member of his staff.
“To see that commitment sacrificed in the name of cost cutting is at once contemptible and demoralising to the staff that John leaves behind. It shows management's utter disregard for the loyalty and dedication that their staff show every day in their efforts to produce quality newspapers and magazines, and sends out a deeply unpleasant message: no matter your experience or your commitment, everything is rated by cost.
“John has conducted himself with great dignity today – something Johnston Press management would do well to learn from.”