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March 10, 2009

‘Gardening leave’ for Kent Messenger editorial director

By Jon Slattery

Kent Messenger Group editorial director Simon Irwin is understood to be on ‘gardening leave’ from the independently-owned company which has just announced swingeing job cuts.

It was revealed last week that KM Group was proposing to cut more than 150 posts and that up to 35 editorial staff could be made redundant after a period of consultation. It is also proposed that editorial offices at Folkestone and Thanet are to be closed.

Irwin, 47, was made editorial director of the Kent Messenger Group in January 2003 and promoted to the board and was previously associate director. He is currently a member of the Press Complaints Commission.

One KM source said: ‘It is widely known within the company that Simon has gone on paid leave since Friday but we don’t know what the reasons are.”

Another said: ‘Graham Mead [the KM Group managing director] is now dealing with Simon’s work. Don’t know much other than there was a disagreement on Friday and Simon is now on leave.”

Irwin joined KM Group in 1998 and was previously assistant editor of the Western Mail in Cardiff.

He was successively West Kent senior editor and editorial manager before being promoted to associate director.

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Irwin has previously worked for the Derby Evening Telegraph, Radio Hallam in Sheffield, The Star in Sheffield and the Coventry Evening Telegraph, beginning his journalistic career as a reporter with the Mansfield Chad.

KM Group announced last September that it was making 60 redundancies and closing six regional offices because of “unsustainable annual trading losses”.

Mead, who joined the company in January, said last week that KM Group had no option but to move to the next stage of its restructuring plan.

‘If we had any other option but redundancies we would take it, but the reality is that we have to restructure our business to be able to operate efficiently in this challenging environment and to position ourselves for the future,’he said.

Press Gazette has approached KM Group managing director Graham Mead for a response. This story will be updated shortly.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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