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Visa expiry prompts ‘Aussie backpacker’ to leave democracy reporter role

Lachlan LeemingA self-proclaimed “Aussie backpacker” who became a local democracy reporter has announced his departure from the role due to his visa expiring.

Lachlan Leeming, who has worked in both Yorkshire and South-East London under the BBC-funded scheme, has announced he will be returning to Australia in the coming days.

Lachlan, pictured, initially worked as a local democracy reporter based in Harrogate for JPIMedia, but moved to the News Shopper, in South-East London, last November.

There he has covered the London boroughs of Greenwich, Bromley and Bexley.

Announcing his departure on Twitter, Lachlan said: “This has all happened rather quickly, but sadly it looks like I’ll be finishing up with the News Shopper and the LDRS and heading back to Australia in a few days.

“Not to get too emotional (I will later over a few beers) but I’m very thankful to everyone who helped an Aussie backpacker with no idea about British politics scrape a living over the last few years.

“Also very sad to say goodbye to the local democracy reporting service, one constant in my two-and-a-half years abroad.

“I’ll always be so grateful that I was able to meet, work alongside and learn from so many brilliant journos through it. I’ve loved every second.”

In follow-up tweets, Lachlan cited the expiry of his visa as the reason behind his departure.

Before moving to the UK, Lcahlan worked on Australian titles including the Manning River Times, Macleay Argus and Maitland Mercury.

Sir Bob Neill, Tory MP for Bromley & Chislehurst, and Abena Oppong-Asare, Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, have both wished him well.

Sir Bob said: “All the best for the future, Lachlan. Appreciated the professional way in which you have reported on Bromley issues and engaged with me and my staff.”

Ms Oppong-Asare added: “This is very sad to hear. Best of luck with your next journey.”

Speaking to HTFP, Lachlan said: “I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the local democracy reporting service over the last two years, particularly during something as earth-shattering as the coronavirus pandemic.

“At a time when journalists’ work increasingly seems to be judged purely by the amount of clicks they can generate, it was great to be a part of something so committed to upholding the basic principals of public interest journalism.”