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Ager-Hanssen defends Salmond as Highfield warns of JP reader boycott

Christen AgerThe businessman behind a bid to overthrow the Johnston Press board has defended the company’s would-be chairman Alex Salmond over his links to a Russian news channel.

Christen Ager-Hanssen, left, has hit out at current JP chief executive Ashley Highfield, who accused Mr Salmond of being “in bed with the Russians” and warned of a reader and advertiser boycott if the former First Minister of Scotland were to join the company’s board.

Mr Salmond has launched a weekly chat show on the RT channel, which is funded by the Russian government, but he has said his own production company Slainte Media is responsible for making the programme.

Ashley issued his warning in an interview with the Sunday Times, but in response Christen has repeated his assertion that “winter is coming” for the current JP board – a reference to popular fantasy TV series Game of Thrones.

Said Ashley: “The fact that Salmond seems to be in bed with the Russians would go against our belief in the editorial independence of our titles.

“We have had a number of readers and advertisers saying they would cancel their subscription or their business if Salmond went onto the board.”

Christen is demanding the removal of JP chairman Camilla Rhodes and non-executive director Mike Butterworth and their replacement by former Mr Salmond and former Local World boss Steve Auckland.

JP said earlier this month that a requisition notice it received from his investment vehicle Custos Group, which called for an extraordinary general meeting, was “invalid”.

In response to Ashley’s comments, Christen told HTFP: “Mr Salmond is a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council and has run a country as First Minister of Scotland.

“All Mr Highfield has done is run down a fine company wiping out 90pc of shareholder value.

“Personal attacks will get Mr Highfield nowhere with already aggrieved shareholders who quite properly will decide the future of the company. For Mr Highfield, winter [is] coming.”

HTFP has asked Mr Salmond’s office for a comment.

6 comments

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  • November 20, 2017 at 2:07 pm
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    What readers might they be? The plunge in readership of JP papers over recent years as quality went out of the window has been shocking (although it is not alone in this alarming decline).

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  • November 20, 2017 at 3:07 pm
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    I’m starting to feel bad for JP and the management… He’s changed his mind on his take over 5 times now and can’t even submit the correct stuff required to call an EGM. Kind of embarrassing on his part and certainly not someone I’d want looking after a company I had shares in! He can’t make his mind up or do basic admin or DD!
    This is the unbelievable in defence of the unconscionable…

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  • November 20, 2017 at 3:24 pm
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    “…we have had a number of readers and advertisers saying they would cancel their subscription…..”

    So what does he think the reason was for losing all the other thousands of readers then pre Salmondgate?

    Remember when David Brent found out he’d been fired? ‘ you’ll have a mutiny on your hands,resignations, staff walking out ’
    Yes that

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  • November 21, 2017 at 8:01 am
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    Salmond and Dorkland….what a wonderful prospect for JP staff.

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  • November 21, 2017 at 10:39 am
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    Ben Curd
    Worse than Highfield and co?
    Unlikely in fact it would be a happy release for many

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