Star Tribune union seeks inquiry of allegations against publisher

(AP) The union that represents newsroom workers at the Star Tribune called for an independent inquiry into allegations that new publisher Par Ridder handed over secrets from his former employer, the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Last week MediaNews Group Inc., which runs the Pioneer Press, sued Ridder and the Star Tribune, alleging that Ridder e-mailed more than a dozen sensitive Pioneer Press spreadsheets and allowed the contents of his Pioneer Press laptop computer to be copied after he was named publisher and CEO of the Star Tribune last month. A court hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Wednesday.

"Without commenting on the merit of the allegations, we want to convey that the lawsuit raises questions about the credibility of the Star Tribune and affects our work as journalists," the letter Tuesday from the Newspaper Guild's Star Tribune unit said. "We know this because of the flood of questions and comments we've received from readers, sources, acquaintances and others with whom we're in contact.

"In our view, an independent inquiry, and a full report of the findings, is the best way to end the ongoing distraction caused by the allegations, as well as to ensure the credibility of the Star Tribune."

The Star Tribune has said the facts about Ridder's move to the Star Tribune are in dispute, and Ridder has denied using confidential information to help the Star Tribune. Neither Star Tribune Chairman Chris Harte nor Star Tribune spokesman Ben Taylor immediately returned messages left Tuesday afternoon.

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