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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 21:30 GMT
Newspaper appoints new editor
Harry Blackwood
Mr Blackwood has worked for the Hatlepool Mail for 30 years

A new editor has been appointed at the Hartlepool Mail after the former editor quit.

Paul Napier, the present editor of the Scarborough Evening News, has been appointed as successor to Harry Blackwood

Mr Blackwood quit his job after alleging that the town's MP, Peter Mandelson, had put pressure on the newspaper's managers, over some of its coverage.

The politician has strenuously denied any involvement.

Mr Napier will take over at New Clarence House towards the end of May.

He said: "I am hugely excited about coming up to Hartlepool.


"I think it is a great paper and I look forward to getting stuck in at Hartlepool. I think it is a town that is going places.

"I know that it is really doing things and it will be exciting to be part of that as a paper should be."

Mr Blackwood claimed the town's MP tried for 18 months to force him out.

Mr Blackwood's bosses at publishers Johnston Press, said he was exonerated after three separate investigations into complaints from the MP.

Mr Blackwood said tensions with the MP came to a head after Mr Mandelson blamed the newspaper for helping the former mascot of Hartlepool United win a mayoral election.

Stuart Drummond, who campaigned on a platform of free bananas for school pupils, beat Labour's candidate, Leo Gillen.

Strenuously denied

In an editorial, the newspaper dismissed Mr Mandelson's allegations, adding that it was a pity the MP could not accept the outcome of the contest with "good grace".

The former Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Mandelson has strenuously denied the claims that he campaigned to have him removed.

In a statement to the BBC in March, Mr Mandelson said: "Harry Blackwood's argument is with his employers and not me, although I realise my name is good for generating publicity.

"All I want to see is a first-rate newspaper, with high journalistic standards in Hartlepool."

The BBC's Ian Reeve
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