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TUESDAY 27  FEBRUARY 2024

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One day after promising no more cuts this year, Reach boss has a change of mind

By RICHARD DISMORE

Reach boss Jim Mullen yesterday rowed back on his promise that there were no more job cuts in the pipeline on the Mirror, Express and Star titles.


Mullen, pictured, the group’s Chief Executive Officer, was speaking remotely from his study at home to a meeting that all staff at the Canary Wharf HQ were obliged to attend.


Asked to confirm there would be no more cuts this year on top of the 450 jobs already axed, Mullen said: “I cannot commit to that.”


But he added: “We have planned 2024 with enough buffer in to guard against some of the downturns. We want 2024 to be about focusing on the quality of our work and not people worrying about their jobs.”


In an apparent reference to the departure of Mirror Editor Alison Phillips, who has accepted voluntary redundancy terms, Mullen said: “I am trying to lift morale but some people left the business who I did not want to leave. But they decided it was time to move on.”


Mullen admitted Reach workers had been directing their anger at him – some to his personal email account – and insisted he “gets it” and understands why people are upset about losing their jobs.


But he said he had no choice – the phone hacking scandal was costing Reach £20 million a year and wiping out the deficit in the pension fund by 2028 would take £70 million a year. There were also dividend commitments to shareholders.


But he was cheered by the court ruling that there was a time limit on claims brought by alleged hacking victims – among them the Duke of Sussex. Mullen said it had been a “huge help” and would save the company millions.


One of the complaints by journalists at Reach has been the pop-up ads on the websites that make stories frustratingly difficult to read.


Private Eye reports this week that Lloyd Embley, Editor in Chief until he quit last July in disgust at the direction the group was taking, was so angered by the ads that he smashed his own mobile phone against a wall.


But yesterday Mullen claimed he could not block the online ads because “I need them to pay the bills.”


Mullen’s comments on the legal assault by the Duke of Sussex came on the day that Prince Harry dropped his libel claim against the Mail on Sunday publisher, Associated Newspapers.


Harry, 39, had sued over an article about the personal security arrangements for him and his wife, the actress Meghan Markle, when they visit the UK from their home in California.


Harry wanted guards to be provided even though he had stepped back from being a senior Royal. The Mail on Sunday article reported on his legal challenge against the Home Office for withdrawing his protection, which was paid for from the public purse.


The Mail on Sunday said that Harry withdrew his libel claim just hours before a court deadline. It said he would be liable for the paper’s legal costs, which are believed to amount to £250,000.



20 January 2024