Editor resigns at 'New Statesman'

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The Independent Online

The editor's chair of Britain's oldest and leading left-wing weekly magazine fell vacant yesterday when Steve Platt resigned after five years in charge of the troubled New Statesman and Society.

Mr Platt was quick to scotch rumours he had been forced out as part of the management machinations which have gripped "the Staggers" these past few months. "It is very much my decision to resign," he said.

A critic of Tony Blair, Mr Platt was rumoured three months ago to be on the Labour leader's hit-list. That was firmly denied, both by Mr Blair's office and senior New Statesman insiders.

Mr Platt emphasised yesterday that his going had nothing to do with Mr Blair. "After five years at the helm, I feel the time has come to hand over to someone fresh."

From a peak of 90,000 sales in the 1970s, the 82-year old New Statesman has slumped to a circulation of barely 20,000 today. For the last two years, it has been controlled by Philip Jeffrey, a multi-millionaire who made his fortune from the Fads chain of DIY stores.

After taking a back-seat managerially, mounting losses and reports of boardroom bust-ups, forced Mr Jeffrey to take a more active role.

Mr Jeffrey is planning a new share issue. Mr Platt, who is closely allied with Mr Jeffrey, will stay in place until it is completed and will help select the new editor. Mr Platt expects to continue to write for the magazine and remain on its board.