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Union hits out at editor over failure to pay journalists and creditors

Thomas SinclairAn editor who owes thousands of pounds to creditors, including journalists who have worked for him, says he will pay up after his behaviour was branded “outrageous” by union chiefs.

Thomas Sinclair, who runs the Herald group of newspapers in West Wales, has defied court orders over money owed to people including reporters and photographers.

But Thomas, pictured, has told BBC Wales he has now secured a new £1.5m investment which he claims will allow him to repay everybody, including six former employees, as well as creating up to 10 new roles.

He also told HTFP that he was no longer the owner of the Herald group and that its ownership has been transferred to Herald News International Inc., a new company which he says was incorporated in the United States earlier this year.

Speaking to the BBC, Thomas admitted he “made mistakes” but insisted those he owed money to would be repaid.

He added: “We launched a fourth newspaper, the Ceredigion Herald, and really that was a bridge too far for the newspaper group.

“It didn’t make money – it lost an awful lot of money – and left us in a situation where almost the whole group collapsed and we would have been left with no newspapers at all.

“We have paid off quite a lot of the staff that were owed money from the past.”

The National Union of Journalists has said the way journalists, photographers and communities have been treated by the Herald is “outrageous”.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet told the BBC: “The Herald has treated its journalists absolutely appallingly.

“Having to go through the courts to try and seek redress for wages they are owed, for work they have created and produced, in and of itself is disgusting.

“But the fact that despite court judgements they haven’t actually been paid what is due to them is particularly repugnant.”

Among those owed money is Alan Evans, editor of hyperlocal website Llanelli Online, who is yet to receive £6,500 for freelance work carried out for the group.

Alan pursued Thomas through the courts and sought to stop him from allowing his company to close in order to avoid paying his debts.

He added: “We have been quite insistent that he can’t do that, that he has to file accounts and has to pay his debts before he dissolves the company.”

However the company says its new backers, which include investors from the UK and overseas, including one from Oman, have enbled it to make a fresh start.

David Lee, MD of

Herald group MD David Lee at Milford Haven Marina.  Picture supplied by Thomas Sinclair

Managing director David Lee told HTFP: “I agree wholeheartedly with Michelle Stanistreet from the NUJ that a small number of former members of staff were treated badly. This was due to the failure of the previous business running the newspapers.

“However, we started again – and two years on, we have finally managed to raise the capital needed to both pay debts from the past and to invest in local journalism for the future.

“This £1.5m is a huge boost for a company running small community newspapers such as ours and will allow us to remain in print for a number of years.

“It will also protect an existing 25 jobs and create a further 10 as we invest in news provision in west Wales.”


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  • March 28, 2019 at 9:00 am


    Yep, that pretty much sums up how Sinclair conducts his business dealings as regular followers of HTFP will be aware, however, with such a professional looking MD at the helm ( and certainly not just given the position as a can carrier when this latest venture goes belly up) I’m sure it will be a roaring success!

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  • March 28, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Not him again?!

    Can you imagine him on Dragons Den?

    “ Hi I’m Thomas Sinclair …”

    ( every dragon)…..”I’m out!!”

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  • March 28, 2019 at 10:09 am

    No cheque in the post today. Quelle surprise. For someone who learns something new everyday he hasn’t learned the basic set of ethics, morals and decency one would expect from an editor and businessman. Here’s a lesson for you. Pay the people who work for you and stop using other people’s hard work without their permission.

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  • March 28, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Just a reminder. This bad businessman not only said he didn’t owe me money but that mine was a ridiculous claim the courts would throw out. They also wiped my name from every piece of work I submitted on their website. They still use my photographs I have not been paid for.

    In total, Herald Newspapers has been told to pay Alan £5,845.80 for debt, £482.28 of interest and statutory compensation of £70, as well as a £150 court fee.

    However Thomas, who edits the Carmarthenshire, Llanelli and Pembrokeshire Herald titles, claims the notice for the second hearing was also sent to the wrong address and says he will challenge that decision too.

    He denied that the group owes Alan the money and said it was “unaware” of the dates any hearings had been due to take place.

    He said: “We wrote to the court and applied for the judgement to be set aside and were awaiting a court date for the hearing. Unfortunately, due to an error by the court, they again sent the hearing notice to the wrong address.

    “General manager Mathew Rickard contacted the court [on Tuesday] to find out why it was taking so long to find out when the hearing was, only to be told that it had already taken place on Monday.

    “We are now in the process of arranging a new hearing date with the court and this time, we should be notified of the hearing. We are 100pc confident that once we actually get into court, Mr Evans’ ridiculous claim will be struck out.”

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  • March 28, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Sinclairs previous business dealings ought to be enough to warn anyone away from having anything to do with him in the future,those unaware of his past should Google him (don’t miss the infamous Ali G Carnival story too )
    I wish you luck in getting what’s rightly yours but don’t hold out much hope of an early result
    Good luck to you anyway Alan

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  • March 28, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Not this fella again!

    He’s a symptom of a bigger problem which I saw starting to creep in when I was at the end of my newspaper career, the idea that bloggers and online posters were the equal of professionally trained journalists.

    I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, I just mean the trade itself was devalued to such an extent (admittedly mostly by the media companies themselves) that people like him started to get a foot in the door, with the obvious disastrous consequences.

    Just because I drink a lot of coffee and wear comfortable trainers that doesn’t make me an A&E nurse.

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  • March 28, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Gives what remains of newspaper journalism a bad name if the allegations are true.

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