MacLaurin and Monk quit MacLaurin in hatch dispute

LONDON - Two of the most senior directors of hatch-group's founding subsidiary MacLaurin are to quit the company following disagreements with the parent company board.

MacLaurin Media chairman Brian MacLaurin and managing Ian Monk both confirmed this week they are to leave within months.

Although MacLaurin, Monk and hatch CEO Michael Murphy all insisted the separation was "amicable", it is understood relations have been put under pressure by a number of factors.

These include Murphy's frustration at MacLaurin and Monk's focus on celebrity clients, and the departing duo's irritation that hatch's acquisition spree has been in limbo since the deal to buy tech minnow Connors Communications last October.

Murphy, whose spell at hatch has seen the creation of City and lobbying units, said: "We are moving away from the personality business into areas such as financial PR and public affairs."

MacLaurin has now negotiated his departure -- he will leave in May and take the Chris Tarrant and Richard Desmond/Express Newspapers business with him. His non-compete clause means that, for the next two years, as well as being banned from hiring hatch staff and pitching against the group, he can employ only one account handler and one administrator in any subsequent start-up.

MacLaurin, who plans to launch the new Brian MacLaurin Associates in June, said: "I am not a corporate animal and, if I'm honest, I didn't enjoy not being the boss any more."

Former tabloid editor Monk is yet to negotiate his exit, but is known to feel the profile he received working for Carol Caplin during the "Cheriegate" affair will lend him the springboard he needs to launch his own business.

Ian Monk Associates will launch as soon as he is released from hatch. It is not known which clients he will take with him, but his portfolio at MacLaurin included Will Carling and Anthea Turner.

Despite the departures, hatch still owns MacLaurin Media, a 12-strong unit that will now be headed by Keeley-Ann Kelly, and the 30-strong consumer, tech and B2B shop branded MacLaurin, run by managing director Vikki Stace.

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