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Media director liable for money owed to axed journalists, judge rules

Duncan WilliamsA media director has been found personally liable for money owed to a group of journalists who were made redundant after a series of weekly newspapers ceased publication.

An employment tribunal has ruled Duncan Williams, left, is liable for the payments following legal action taken by 28 former employees of the View From series of newspapers, which cover areas of Dorset, Devon and Somerset.

All but one of the staff in question were made redundant by their then owner, Sunday Independent publisher Peter Masters, on 4 January this year after the titles ceased publication.

But a judge at Exeter Combined Court yesterday concluded that because Mr Williams had bought the titles on 16 January, all rights, powers, duties and liabilities had then transferred to him.

Mr Williams, who did not attend the two-day hearing, had stated he had only purchased the intellectual property rights for the brands from Mr Masters after they had ceased publication.

He has told HTFP he now intends to appeal the decision.

According to a report of the hearing by Cornwall Live, employment judge Nicholas Roper concluded Mr Williams was personally liable for claims for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payments made by the former employees.

He was found jointly liable with Vibe Marketing, which Judge Roper described as a “shell company”, for pension deductions.

Vibe Marketing itself, of which Mr Williams has denied being a director, was found liable for a further claim relating to pension deductions from July 2017.

The judge found that Mr Masters, who is also chairman of Truro City Football Club, was not liable for the claims.  He had bought the View From titles himself less than six months before they were closed.

The 28 claimants will now attend a further hearing next March to determine how much money is owed to them.

While most of the claims relate to the closure of the titles in January, one relates to a claim of unfair dismissal in December 2017, before the titles ceased publication.

The View From titles served Beaminster, Bridport, Dorchester, Lyme Regis, Weymouth, Seaton, Honiton and South Somerset, while sister title Pulman’s Weekly News covered Axminster.

Mr Williams told HTFP he was appealing the decision and further denied he was a director of Vibe Marketing. Former View From deputy editor James Coles, spokesman for the claimants, has declined to comment further.


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  • September 20, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Of course he was. I said at the time this is why TUPE was created and I am almost 100% sure they will win this claim

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  • September 21, 2018 at 9:02 am

    While my first thoughts, naturally, go to the staff affected, I can’t help feeling that this bloke has copped more than his fair share.
    Make no bones about it, the law says he’s liable, but the previous owner made the staff redundant and sold the titles on.
    But previously, another owner had presumably not done such a great job either.
    Local independent titles have a great role to play in their communities and in news gathering, but shouldn’t be thought of as a way to make a quick buck.
    It’s bad enough the big groups have done this.

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