Bild, a German tabloid and one of the most influential news outlets in Germany was recently replaced by Springer as its new editor. The move is seen as an attempt to re-brand Bild more broadly and show it has no affiliation with neo-Nazi groups like those who have been implicated in recent terrorist attacks such as the Manchester bombing.

BERLIN— Even after an internal inquiry into his conduct, German publisher Axel Springer SE said on Monday that the editor in chief of its Bild tabloid, Europe’s biggest circulation daily, had been dismissed due to claims that he had personal ties with subordinate staff.

The decision comes just days before Axel Springer completes its $1 billion acquisition of Washington, D.C.-based digital publication Politico, the latest stage in the company’s ambitious U.S. development strategy.

In a late Monday press statement, the German corporation, which employs over 1,600 people in 40 countries, announced the decision to replace Bild editor Julian Reichelt, who also handled the new Bild TV television channel.

Mr. Reichelt has failed to “clearly separate private and professional concerns,” according to the corporation, and has given the executive board lies about it. Mr. Reichelt had sought consensual interactions with women working beneath him, according to the statement, and there had never been any verified claim of sexual harassment or misuse of power against him.

A attempt for comment from Mr. Reichelt went unanswered.

Mr. Reichelt, a veteran war correspondent, was the focus of a compliance investigation earlier this year after local media reported that he had exploited his position by having sexual contacts with young female workers.

In January 2020, Julian Reichelt will speak at an event in Düsseldorf, Germany.

friedemann vogel/Shutterstock photo

According to an Axel Springer representative, an independent inquiry performed by the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer determined that although Mr. Reichelt had relationships with female employees, there was no indication he misused his authority while doing so.

After the inquiry was completed, Mr. Reichelt kept his job, although he had to share his duties with a female co-chief.

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However, the corporation said on Monday that media inquiries from Germany and the United States found that Mr. Reichelt had maintained an intimate connection with a female employee after the first probe. Mr. Reichelt had been freed of his tasks and would not be assigned to another position at the firm, according to a spokesperson, who added that the official termination of his employment was still being discussed. Mr. Reichelt has been in charge of the department since 2017.

As a consequence, he was immediately removed of his responsibilities as chief editor. The New York Times first reported on the newest charges on Sunday, citing an ongoing investigation by German news site Ippen that has yet to be published.

A senior Ippen editor refused to comment on the probe other than to indicate that it may be published within the next several days.

Axel Springer’s spokesperson stated the dismissal had nothing to do with the Politico deal’s impending conclusion. Springer, like other German corporations, had no regulations governing employee intimacy, but following the internal probe into Mr. Reichelt, it started creating such standards.

“Julan Reichelt did a fantastic job with Bild… We would have hoped to continue the cultural transformation effort at Bild that was initiated by the newsroom and publisher in collaboration with Julian Reichelt, but this will no longer be possible,” Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner said in a statement.

Mr. Reichelt will be succeeded by Johannes Boie, the editor of Springer’s weekly Welt on Sunday.

The official said Messrs. Döpfner and Boie would come in the Bild newsroom on Tuesday to update the workers about the changes and answer any questions.

Bojan Pancevski can be reached at [email protected].

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‘Springer Forces Out Bild Editor’ appeared in the print version of the October 19, 2021, issue.