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October 23, 2014

Telegraph plan to axe Mandrake diary column and long-serving editor Tim Walker

By Dominic Ponsford

Telegraph bosses are planning to axe the paper’s daily Mandrake diary column as part of a round of job cuts which will decimate the paper’s editorial staff.

Press Gazette understands that Mandrake editor Tim Walker is at risk of redundancy as well as reporter Katy Balls.

Some 55 journalists are expected to lose their jobs as part of a management bid to cut 10 per cent of Telegraph Media Group’s journalists.

Mandrake editor Walker was recruited from the Daily Mail to head up the Sunday Telegraph Mandrake column in 2002. The column went seven days in 2008 and now appears Tuesday to Saturday.

Walker previously worked for the Barclay brothers as diary editor of The European in the 1990s and may be their longest-serving journalist employee.

When the billionaire twins took over the Telegraph in 2004, Walker told Press Gazette that they were “model proprietors…they wrote the cheques and left us to it”.

Recent big stories for Mandrake include breaking the news that Hugh Grant had pulled out of filming the third Bridget Jones film, the revelation that Children in Need had £88m in the bank and the news that David Frost left £13m in his will.

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Walker, who declined to comment to Press Gazette, is one of the few Telegraph big names to survive the successive waves of editorial redundancies since 2004.

Around a dozen editorial redundancies, of mainly senior staff, were made at the Telegraph earlier this year. This followed 80 editorial redundancies in 2013 and 30 editorial redundancies in 2012 with the merger of the Sunday and daily teams.

There were 12 editorial redundancies in early 2008, which included the then NUJ father of chapel John Carey, and later that year a further 50 journalist redundancies were announced.

In 2006 around 150 journalists were axed as the paper moved from Canary Wharf to Victoria and there were a further 90 editorial redundancies in 2005.

Over the same period new recruitment has generally focussed on younger journalists to digitally-focused roles.

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