Unilad co-CEO Sam Bentley stands down amid internal investigation

Unilad CEO Sam Bentley (right) abruptly steps down

Unilad's co-chief executive and founder has stepped down after an internal investigation into historical conduct at the company.

Sam Bentley, who ran the media brand with co-CEO Liam Harrington, has resigned from the board and stepped down from his position.

David Sefton, managing partner of Linton Capital LLP and a former barrister with company director experience, will fill in as interim executive chairman until an appointment is made.

The publisher has contacted media buyers to inform them it has taken "decisive and firm action" following an investigation "in response to allegations of historic misconduct made against the company" and that some staff face disciplinary action.

This action coincides with the emergence of a website dubbed 'Unilad Exposed' which has made a number of allegations about the media company's staff.

Extracts from the email sent to media buyers read: "A small number of staff members face disciplinary action. Unilad is committed to the continued growth of its unique business brand while at the same time in all respects upholding the highest standards of ethical conduct. The company will not tolerate any breach of this policy, as these actions clearly demonstrate. Unilad’s ongoing commitment to its staff, clients and many stakeholders remains absolute."

The email did go on to say that there have been "claims made against the company include many false allegations and substantial inaccuracies". It did note that it has "found particular claims to be substantiated," and has "acted" but added that it will "vigorously defend its reputation against untrue allegations".

It concluded: "I appreciate your position on protecting your clients and their reputations around this matter. I want to ensure you that we are committed to providing your clients with a safe environment in which to advertise with us."

A spokesperson for the company confirmed the contents of the email.

Liam Harrington and Sam Bentley have faced legal issues around the company previously, including a spat with company co-founder Alex Partridge, who won a 33% stake in the company after a long-winded legal battle.

The company recently penned a transformative deal with Tough Mudder to share the brand's content on the channels and grow both audiences. The viral empire previously told The Drum that it wants to go beyond just being a broadcaster. At the time, Bentley said: "What we don’t have in money, we make up for with our social media vision and insight."

UPDATE: Several months down the line, Unilad filed for administration. Bidders are already circulating.

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