German media giant Axel Springer said on Monday that Julian Reichelt, the editor-in-chief of Bild, its powerful tabloid, had been removed from his post after the New York Times reported allegations he had behaved badly. inappropriately with women when posting.
The Times reported on Sunday details of Mr Reichelt’s relationship with an intern, who testified in a company-sponsored investigation that he summoned her to a hotel near the office for sex and him. had asked to keep a payment secret.
Mr. Reichelt had “not clearly separated private and professional matters, even after the conclusion of the compliance procedure in the spring of 2021”, and had misled the board of directors of the company on the subject, a Axel Springer said in a statement. Mr. Reichelt denied having abused his authority.
Company CEO Mathias Döpfner praised Reichelt for his leadership, but said it had become impossible to retain him. He said his replacement, Johannes Boie, would combine “journalistic excellence with modern leadership”.
Mr Reichelt was also dismissed from his post at Bild TV, a television network introduced in August, said Deirdre Latour, spokesperson for Axel Springer.
Axel Springer – whose major publications pride themselves on their ability to unearth proprietary information before others – also said in his statement that he would take legal action against third parties he said tried to illegally influence the company. the company’s compliance investigation, “apparently with the for the purpose of removing Julian Reichelt and damaging Bild and Axel Springer.
Despite the apparent threat, Ms. Latour said “they will not go after whistleblowers or anyone who files a complaint.”
Bild is the flagship publication of Axel Springer, a postwar German media titan. The company now focuses much of its energy on the United States and digital publishing. In 2015, the company bought Business Insider (now called Insider) for $ 442 million. This summer, she announced that she had bought Politico for $ 1 billion.
Mr Reichelt took leave in March after Der Spiegel, a German news magazine, reported that Axel Springer was investigating complaints he had had relations with female employees and accusations of abuse of power.
Twelve days later, he returned after an internal investigation, conducted with the help of law firm Freshfields, concluded that Mr Reichelt had mixed up his personal and professional life but had not broken any laws. The investigation found no evidence of sexual harassment or coercion, Axel Springer said at the time.
Mr Reichelt “made mistakes,” Döpfner said in a statement in March. “However, after evaluating everything that has been revealed as part of the investigative process, we consider that a lane separation is inappropriate.”
Mr Reichelt was reinstated with a co-editor-in-chief, Alexandra Würzbach, editor-in-chief of the Sunday edition of Bild, who had resumed her duties in his absence.
In explaining his decision on Monday to suspend Mr. Reichelt, the publisher cited “revelations” about his behavior that had “surfaced in recent days, following media reports”.
Pressure is mounting in Germany after media group Ippen, a competitor to Bild, decided on Friday to withdraw its own in-depth investigation into Mr Reichelt. The revelation sparked outrage among journalists in Berlin, which led Chancellor spokeswoman Angela Merkel to ask at a press conference on Monday whether the move had caused the German government to fear that press freedom is not in danger. Ms Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert declined to comment.
Ippen said in a statement Monday that he decided not to publish his investigation because he wanted to avoid giving the impression that he wanted to harm a rival publisher.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.