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HS editor-in-chief quits after drink-driving incident

The Sanoma board immediately relieved Kaius Niemi of his duties as senior editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat, a post he held for nearly a decade.

Kaius Niemi oikeustalon aulassa keskiviikkona 5. lokakuuta 2022.
Kaius Niemi, 48, was senior editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat for nearly a decade. Image: Jani Saikko / Yle
Yle News

Kaius Niemi, senior editor-in-chief of the leading daily Helsingin Sanomat (HS), resigned on Friday after being suspected of aggravated drunk driving in Helsinki. 

Niemi took to Twitter to apologise for the incident, which took place around 7am. He said that he was moving his car in the parking garage of the headquarters of Sanoma, which owns the paper. Niemi did not operate the vehicle outside of the parking garage, HS said.

"I am deeply sorry about this and have informed the board of Sanoma that I do not think I can continue in my current role as editor-in-chief," Niemi tweeted.

Sanoma's board decided to relieve Niemi of the post immediately. 

"We are extremely sorry for today's events. Kaius Niemi has done an excellent job as the Senior Editor-in-Chief of Helsingin Sanomat. He has made a serious mistake and carries the responsibility for it. Sanoma’s Board has made a decision to release him from his position," said Sanoma chair Pekka Ala-Pietilä in a statement.

The board said that the search for Niemi's successor would start immediately. Niemi, 48, had led the paper since 2013.

"Sadness and shock"

In the meantime, Antero Mukka has taken over as interim editor-in-chief. He has been the chief news editor.

"Digesting this information will certainly take some time. My initial reaction is sadness and shock. Kaius is a widely respected journalistic leader whose merits regarding HS's success are well known and recognised," Mukka commented to Yle via text message.

According to the news agency STT, security staff called the police when they noticed Niemi moving his car in the parking garage.

Helsinki police declined to comment on the case to Yle other than by stating: "The matter will be clarified at a district court hearing".

On Thursday, Niemi presided over the newspaper's annual literary award gala at the Sanoma building. He handed out the prize for the year's best debut novel, which is worth 15,000 euros. This year's award went to Susanna Hast for her novel Ruumis/huoneet.

Sanoma also owns Ilta-Sanomat, Aamulehti, Taloussanomat and is the largest stakeholder in STT. Its portfolio also includes many magazines, local newspapers and radio channels, as well as the TV channel Nelonen. The group also has operations in 11 other European countries.

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