Richard Ingrams, the 76-year-old founder of The Oldie magazine, has resigned after falling out with the magazine’s publisher and refusing to attend a “disciplinary hearing” called to discuss his conduct.
In a media row which would have delighted the former editor of Private Eye had he not been a core participant, Mr Ingrams quit the current affairs title for the over-60s after deciding he was “too old for disciplinary hearings”.
He told The Independent that his “farcical” departure from a publication which he set up 22 years ago was rather different to his exit from Private Eye, which he left after complaining of “boredom” in 1986.
“The Eye was a more voluntary affair as I remember, This time I’ve gone against my will because I find myself quite unable to deal with my publisher,” said the occasionally irascible Mr Ingrams. “I would really have loved to have carried on but it hasn’t proved possible with this guy. He would rather not deal with a stroppy character like myself.”
A long-running personality clash with the publisher, James Pembroke, appears to have come to a head when Mr Ingrams was summoned to a meeting over a recent fall in The Oldie’s news-stand circulation and concern about the quality of its recent covers. “I told him we had already discussed it and it seemed a bit pointless. He took exception to that,” Mr Ingrams said.
His refusal to attend the meeting resulted in him being summoned to a disciplinary hearing, but Mr Ingrams chose to quit instead. The episode was “like a scene from The Office”, said one Oldie writer. “It’s surreal – trying to discipline the 76-year-old founder of your own magazine.”
Despite the recent fall in sales, subscriptions are said to be strong and the magazine’s circulation of around 44,000 represents growth of 20,000 in the past decade. Mr Ingrams, who will focus on completing a biography of journalist Ludovic Kennedy, appealed to his successor to retain the title’s “very good staff”.
Ian Hislop, who succeeded Mr Ingrams at Private Eye, said he was “very sorry” to hear of developments at The Oldie. “He’s a brilliant editor and has founded two magazines. It’s very difficult to create a magazine and [The Oldie] has lasted for 22 years and been incredibly successful.”
Mr Pembroke and The Oldie did not respond to requests for comment.