The chairman of newspaper publisher Johnston Press is stepping down due to an “acute illness in his family”.
Ian Russell will depart the company, which owns more than 200 local newspapers and the i, from 31 December.
The company has begun searching for a replacement, but it said senior independent director Camilla Rhodes will take up the position of interim chairman from 1 January.
“I'd like to thank Ian for his tireless work on behalf of Johnston Press, first as a non-executive director and, since 2009, as chairman,” said chief executive Ashley Highfield.
“His guidance and advice have been invaluable to me and his board colleagues throughout that time and he will leave with our warmest best wishes.
“Camilla Rhodes has huge experience of both our company and our industry and I look forward to working with her in the coming months while we identify a permanent successor to Ian.”
Rhodes joined Johnston Press as a non-executive director in 2009. She formerly worked for News International (now News UK), the publisher of the Sun, Times and now-defunct News of the World, for 29 years.