Dozens of journalists left out of pocket following the collapse of would-be media mogul Chris Bullivant’s Birmingham Press are to receive only 2p in the pound payout.
Just £5,125.76 was raised following the liquidation of the shortlived Birmingham weekly – against agreed creditor claims totalling £245,955.28.
The total deficiency was £347,796, with 70 unsecured creditors, and the end of the Bullivant dream of becoming a serious player in West Midlands newspaper circles has left some journalists with losses of thousands of pounds.
The payouts, nearly two years after the closure of the Birmingham Press, came under fire from Chris Morley, National Union of Journalists’ regional organiser.
“The fact that there is a payout to creditors after all this time will be of cold comfort to the many freelance journalists who were affected by the collapse of CJB Media Ltd.
“But it is some justice that at least something will come from the wreckage when it looked initially that all the limited assets of the company would be swallowed up by the insolvency process and Chris Bullivant’s own potential claim.
“Fortunately, he pledged that he would waive his right to that and sensible negotiations through the liquidation committee, of which I was a part representing NUJ members, meant there was a sum to distribute to creditors.
“As we discovered, many journalists were strung along for months, providing a large amount of work which was rarely – and sometimes never – paid for. In some cases six months’ work or more came to nothing.
“It was not surprising that many were left angry by the cavalier way the Birmingham Press was set up and run for its limited life. But it was unacceptable that those in charge claimed to be ignorant that freelance journalists were not getting paid.”
At a creditors’ meeting in November 2010, Mr Bullivant told angry journalists: “I am truly sorry, especially for people who didn’t receive a penny. It is outrageous, but I didn’t know. I have nothing to hide.”