Media group Johnston Press today said that chairman Ian Russell has decided to step down from the board due to an “acute illness” in his family.
The Edinburgh-based owner of The Scotsman said Russell – the former chief executive of ScottishPower – who joined the Johnston Press board in 2007, will cease to be a director at the end of this month.
Senior independent director Camilla Rhodes, a former News International executive, will become interim chair at the start of January, and Johnston Press – which also owns the Edinburgh Evening News, Scotland on Sunday, Yorkshire Post and i newspapers – said it has begun the search for a permanent replacement to Russell.
Chief executive Ashley Highfield said: “I’d like to thank Ian for his tireless work on behalf of Johnston Press, first as a non-executive director and, since 2009, as chairman.
“His guidance and advice have been invaluable to me and his board colleagues throughout that time and he will leave with our warmest best wishes. Camilla Rhodes has huge experience of both our company and our industry and I look forward to working with her in the coming months while we identify a permanent successor to Ian.”
Last month the group said that i – acquired in a £24 million deal in April – had grown its market share from 18.5 per cent to more than 20 per cent of the quality newspaper segment.
It also confirmed that it was in “late stage” talks to sell “certain titles” to Iliffe Media, having sold its titles on the Isle of Man to Tindle Newspapers in August.