Manchester media war – bitter dispute freezes How-Do

An online news service for workers in England’s new digital media region of the north-west has suspended activities after five years, after its recent merger has ended in acrimony.

The site, How-Do, merged with Manchester online city guide last November, after an earlier investment went badly wrong.

But now How-Do publisher Nick Jaspan and Confidential operator Mark Garner have used their sites to air claim and counter-claim, Jaspan telling readers: “With no end in sight to this dispute and, as we are unable to mitigate against the ongoing email tirades, we have decided to suspend publication and related actvities until a resolution is reached.”

According to How-Do’s Jaspan:

“The company we believed we were merging with, CPub, had no assets. We were also not told that the Crown was about to petition Cpub to be wound up, something which occurred a few days later.

“Once we had belatedly discovered the true nature of the situation, we took professional advice and decided to exit the merger at the end of January.”

Jaspan accuses Garner of continuing to email How-Do readers with his side of the story. Garner writes:

“I have since instructed … our solicitors to write to Jaspan and demand that he hands the HD assets back.

“The result is that fourteen people have been made redundant, people are out of work, mortgages are being called in and cars being re-possessed.”

Each party has also traded more personal accusations, in a Manchester tussle as furious as that in which the city’s City and United soccer clubs are currently embroiled at the close of the Premier League season.

MediaCityUK in Manchester’s Salford area is a new village for media and digital production companies and will house 2,300 BBC employees, including many of those working in the corporation’s future media division.

How-Do claims over 50,000 unique monthly visitors and over 16,000 email subscribers. tried introducing online payments in 2009, when it claimed 260,000 weekly users and 94,000 email subscribers.