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Editor leaves two weeks before launch date

The editor of the Shetland Weekly has resigned just two weeks before the newspaper is due to launch.

Richard Whitaker, a former Halifax Courier and BBC journalist, left last Wednesday, after the dismissal of senior journalists Jonathan Sutherland and Julia Currie.

They left the company last Monday following a discussion on the management decision-making at the new title, after concerns were voiced in the newsroom.

Richard, assistant editor Jonathan and sub-editor Julia, are all understood to be involved in talks concerning their possible return.

The newspaper’s executives have also undergone a reshuffle. Managing director Mike Sage was suspended at a board meeting on Friday, and chairman Malcolm Younger has stood down but is still a director. Another director, John Goodlad, is taking the role of interim chairman.

A fourth member of the editorial staff, Malachy Tallack, is also understood to have walked out in the wake of the departure of his newsroom colleagues.

The company will want to get its editorial staff up to strength for the planned March 24 launch.

HoldtheFrontPage understands that staff are confident that the board of directors can take the paper forward as a viable and successful business, thanks to the goodwill and enthusiasm shown by all sides as the team has prepared for launch.

No one at the company was prepared to comment on the situation, or if the paper will appear on the proposed date.

It will be a paid-for title and produced in a full-colour compact format, with upwards of 40 pages each week.

Ahead of the launch, the Shetland Weekly team held 20 roadshows across the Shetland isles, where staff met locals and asked for their ideas and comments.

Published every Thursday, it plans to rival the established Shetland Times.