The Oldie's agony aunt offers to mediate with publisher in bid to get Richard Ingrams reinstated as editor


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The Independent Online

The Oldie magazine’s agony aunt has offered to stage a mediation between Richard Ingrams and the magazine’s publisher in a bid to get the editor, who resigned last week, reinstated.

Ingrams, 76, who founded The Oldie 22 years ago, announced his retirement after declining to attend a disciplinary hearing called by publisher James Pembroke. Ingrams said he was “too old” to attend.

Oldie contributors have rallied in support of Ingrams, who sent an email to supporters, including Terry Wogan, in which he indicated that he would be willing to return to his post if Pembroke “accepts the few changes that I have already outlined”.

Mavis Nicholson, The Oldie’s own agony aunt, has offered to mediate between the warring parties.

Press Gazette reported that she had written a letter to Pembroke, with Ingrams copied in, which read: “I’m sticking my neck out. Even with all that’s been said in the press, I think you and Richard should calm down and get together and continue with the unique magazine you’ve both worked for. Just turn over the page and unite.

“I’ll listen to your two moans if you like, and I’ll tell you that with all of them they won’t count when you realise what a unique magazine The Oldie is with you both there. I fear for its future otherwise.”

Valerie Grove, the magazine’s wireless correspondent, said Ingrams’ supporters would “implore them to talk again, to try to restore the partnership which has made this unique magazine”.

A personality clash between Pembroke and Ingrams came to a head when the publisher called a meeting to address a recent fall in The Oldie’s news-stand circulation and his concerns about the quality of its recent covers. Ingrams refused to attend, prompting the disciplinary action.

In his email to contributors, Ingrams wrote: “After the Google driverless car we now have the Pembroke editorless magazine, as from next week The Oldie will have no editor.

“But who will want to take the job on and face a demoralised staff, angry contributors and readers cancelling their subscriptions...? A poisoned chalice situation if ever there was.

“The magazine can be saved if enough protesters force Pembroke to accept the seriousness of his situation. I am prepared to resume the editorship so long as he accepts the few changes that I have already outlined.”

However Jeremy Lewis, Oldie's commissioning editor, who has been made acting editor of the title, told contributors in an email that relations between Ingrams and Pembroke were now “beyond repair”. Lewis wrote: “I know for certain that there is now absolutely no chance of the owners of the Oldie re-employing Richard.”

Pembroke led a 2007 buyout of the title, which reported losses of £1.7 million. Despite the recent fall in sales, subscriptions have held up and the magazine’s circulation of around 44,000 represents growth of 20,000 in the past decade.

Possible candidates to become Oldie editor include Mark Ellen, the music magazines editor and broadcaster.