AddThis SmartLayers

Echo's longest-serving journalist off work after McGovern comments

The Liverpool Echo’s longest-serving journalist, Joe Riley, is off work following criticism of him by Jimmy McGovern on local radio.

It is understood the television scriptwriter made his critical remarks following a preview of his new musical, King Cotton, at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre, which Echo arts editor and columnist Joe attended.

The playwright was later heard on BBC Radio Merseyside talking about Joe and the evening’s events, and the Echo is now considering the position.

Managing editor Chris Walker told holdthefrontpage: “We are aware of Jimmy McGovern’s comments and are looking into them.”

Insiders say Joe has not been seen in the Echo newsroom since Wednesday. His blog ‘Life of Riley’ has not been updated since September 21.

Staff at the Echo and sister paper the Daily Post have signed a petition as a show of support, which has been presented to management, although it is understood it does not make any demands.

HTFP has so far been unable to contact him.

Joe’s career has spanned three decades, beginning as a reporter on the Crosby Herald before moving to the Liverpool Daily Post.

He then switched to the Liverpool Echo and became arts editor in 1974.

His list of interviewees reads like a who’s who in the arts world, with stars such as Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, Shirley Bassey, and Sir Paul McCartney, and in 2002 he received an honorary degree from Liverpool John Moores University.

He also received an Award for Excellence in journalism at the 2004 Merseyside Media Network Journalism Awards.