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‘Disappointed’ editor axed after 20 years with publisher

John Elworthy 2022An editor known for his investigative journalism has left a regional publisher after 20 years following a restructure.

John Elworthy has announced his departure from Archant, where he has served as editor of the Cambs Times, Ely Standard and Wisbech Standard for more than a decade.

His departure comes after Archant’s new owner Newsquest decided to cease print publication of two of his titles – the Cambs Times and its change edition the Wisbech Standard – and make them digital-only products.

Current Hunts Post editor Debbie Davies, who John succeeded as Ely Standard editor when her role was made redundant in 2012, will now take over the running of his titles in addition to her current duties.

John, 71, announced his departure on social media yesterday, saying he “had expected to take on a new role” with Newsquest.

But he added: “However their takeover of my beloved Archant has delivered a different outcome.

“It means after 20 years with Archant and a month or so with Newsquest I have agreed a redundancy package. And very pleased with it too.

“It also means that having decided to retire anyway within the next two or three years, I can feel comfort in being paid not to work for the next 12 months.”

John went on to state that “not working is not an option” for him and that he will return to work with a new publishing venture “that is innovative, exciting and will mean continuation of the work I’ve undertaken for the past 20 years”, although he has declined to reveal further details about the project at this stage.

John was appointed editor of the Times in 2008, where he was previously news editor, following the retirement of Brian Asplin and added the Ely Standard to his portfolio four years later after Debbie lost her job in a company restructure.

He started out as a village correspondent for Lynn News and Advertiser aged 12 and, five years later, he joined EMAP at Peterborough as a junior reporter on the Peterborough Advertiser.

John has also edited titles including the Oxford Journal during his career and has served as community editor for the Fens edition of the Eastern Daily Press.

Earlier this year, his eight-year fight to get justice for murdered child Rikki Neave, who was found dead in a ditch in Peterborough in November 1994, succeeded after James Watson was found guilty of the child’s murder.

A two-year investigation by John also led to the resignation of Cambridgeshire County Council deputy leader Roger Hickford last year, following a probe into the councillor’s acquisition of a house and a nine-acre farm tenancy from the authority’s own estate.

John told HTFP: “The overwhelming support I’ve received since tweeting my departure has encouraged me greatly to prepare for a new chapter and not finish the book here.

“Cambridgeshire has been indifferently served by its local press in recent years and I felt my contributions to investigative, challenging and exhaustive and exhausting journalism did at least shine some light into a few dark corners.

“It was not to be in my current role – but will continue in a new role which will become apparent at an appropriate time in the near future.

“I am categorically not angry or resentful but if you said disappointed that would be a fair summary.

“I’ve seen the editorial hierarchy of our industry use the hashtag #localnewsmatter and there’s been times when I have questioned whether they do actually continue to believe that.”

Newsquest has declined to comment on John’s departure.