Herald editor Tom Sinclair confirms newspaper closures

Thomas Sinclair
Image caption Tom Sinclair admitted he had been "a bad businessman"

A controversial newspaper editor has confirmed the three papers in the group have ceased trading after seven years.

Tom Sinclair, who ran the weekly Pembrokeshire Herald, said 24 members of staff had been made redundant.

The group included the Carmarthenshire Herald and Llanelli Herald, and previously the loss-making Ceredigion Herald which had already closed.

In March, Mr Sinclair admitted he "made mistakes" after defying court orders to repay £70,000 to creditors.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the way journalists, photographers and local communities were treated was "outrageous".

In 2017, his professional reputation was damaged when he was convicted of publishing information likely to identify the victim of a sex offence.

After the latest edition of the papers went to print on Thursday, Mr Sinclair said a meeting was held where it was confirmed that further investor funding would not happen.

"We are absolutely devastated that after nearly seven years and hundreds of editions of the paper we can no longer continue," he said.

"I would like to think that over those years, some of the stories we have written have made a difference to Pembrokeshire and beyond."

Image caption Alan Evans worked for the Herald in Llanelli and previously said time was "running out for Tom Sinclair"

John Hammond, director of Herald News UK Ltd, added: "We have to face the fact that there is no way that we can now continue in a solvent position.

"Whilst there has been a slow decline in readership of local newspapers, our costs for wages, printing and transport have substantially increased."

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "In the past the NUJ has been strongly critical over how the Herald has treated its journalists, owing money to both freelances and ex-employees, with individuals forced to go through the courts and court judgments left unpaid.

"At the time editor Tom Sinclair, blaming poor business decisions, said he had secured new investment that would allow him to repay everybody - including six former employees - within six months. Unfortunately, that promise did not materialise and those individuals owed money are still waiting."

Former employee Alan Evans, who is now editor of Llanelli Online, has claimed he is still owed £7,000 and previously pursued Mr Sinclair through the courts to stop him from closing his company and avoiding his debts.

"I saw it coming a long time ago. I left after being owed a lot of money," he said.

"It became saturated with call centre staff and the main focus was generating income. Journalism was by the by. It was inevitable. Newsprint is going to continue to struggle. It's tough times.

"The losers are community organisations and schools."

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