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No return for Shetland news staff

Three staff who left the Shetland Weekly just two weeks before the newspaper was due to launch are not to return, after talks about their possible reinstatement broke down.

Assistant editor Jonathan Sutherland, and sub-editor Julia Currie, were sacked from the independent newspaper earlier this month after voicing concerns about staffing levels with managing director Mike Sage.

Editor Richard Whitaker walked out a few days later.

The three met with the paper’s board of directors to try and negoiate their return, but an agreement could not be reached.

Jonathan said: “We met with the directors to give them the terms and conditions of our return – it had left a bad taste in our mouths and we could only go back if the conditions were right and we were allowed to do our job properly.”

He blamed “personal differences” with former chairman Malcolm Younger, and said they had objected to his influence on the paper and that of his company Millgaet Media, which publishes the monthly Shetland Post.

Jonathan and Julia, who had worked at the Shetland Weekly for two months, are now planning to leave Shetland to get new work.

Managing director Mike Sage is currently suspended and fellow director Maurice Mullay has taken on the role of interim managing director.

Chairman Malcolm Younger stepped down from his role but is still a director. Another director, John Goodlad, has taken the role of interim chairman.

The newspaper had originally been planned to launch last week, but following the staffing changes this has been postponed.

Maurice yesterday confirmed that Richard, Jonathan and Julia would not be returning. He said it was hoped an announcement concerning the appointment of a new editor and a new launch date for the paper could be made within the next few days.

  • Richard Whitaker declined to comment.