The editorial director of The Scotsman Publications has announced he is leaving his role in a surprise move only weeks before the paper celebrates its bicentenary.
Ian Stewart, who has edited daily The Scotsman since 2012 and is also in charge of the Edinburgh Evening News and Scotland on Sunday (collectively known as the Scotsman Publications), will leave his role in March.
In a memo to staff, Stewart said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to have been editor of these titles through what has been a truly significant time in Scotland’s history.
“I leave with the greatest respect and admiration for my colleagues who do an extraordinary job day in and day out.”
Stewart had been expected to lead a celebration of the Johnston Press-owned paper’s 200th anniversary in three weeks’ time. He will step down in March.
In a statement, the National Union of Journalists said: “Ian has guided The Scotsman titles through extremely turbulent times, but always working with the union to limit damage, despite the savage cuts of recent years.
“That he has done so while managing to retain the confidence and admiration of his staff is testament to his management abilities and fair mindedness as well as his professional approach, unflappable under pressure.
“He will be remembered for his staunch defence of the journalism and all products he managed.”
Stewart first joined The Scotsman in 1991 as night news editor and has spent the majority of his career with the three Scotsman Publications titles except for a period with the Scottish Daily Mail, based in Glasgow.
Jeremy Clifford, editor-in-chief of Johnston Press, said: “I would like to thank Ian for his leadership of The Scotsman in challenging times and during one of the most important eras in modern Scottish history.
“As well as the editorial director he also served on the editorial board as my deputy chairman when it was first set up just over four years ago.
“I would like to thank him for everything he has achieved and wish him every success for the future.”
Johnson Press has said it will begin the search for a replacement immediately.
According to the latest figures by ABC, The Scotsman has an average total circulation of 22,740 copies.
The paper has faced a number of cuts in recent years, leading calls for strike action from its staff.
Picture: Jane Barlow/Johnston Press