The editor and a reporter at a US gay newspaper have quit, claiming that they were asked to kill an unflattering story on an advertiser.

The pair, at the Florida Agenda, were writing an expose about a “large” number of thefts at a nightclub which is a main advertiser in other publications owned by the Agenda’s parent company.

The Living Room Nightclub, in Fort Lauderdale, had seen a number of mobile phone thefts in recent weeks and police told victims that a professional pickpocket gang could be operating.

Former editor Dmitry Rashnitsov, who still worked part-time for the paper, decided to investigate after having his phone stolen at the club.

New editor Jeremy Jones, who is Mr Rashnitsov’s partner, told the South Florida Gay News (SFGN) that he wanted to run the story to warn club patrons about the reports.

However, Mr Jones claims that the owner of the Living Room, Mark Lowe, then pressured the Florida Agenda to drop the story and he was told by the paper’s management not to proceed with it.

Mr Lowe did not respond to requests for comment from the SFGN, although a source said he felt the story was unfair for “singling out” his club.

Mr Jones and Mr Rashnitsov, who worked part-time, quit last week.

“The problem is still there, and the thefts are still happening,” Mr Jones told SFGN. “Patrons and the community had a right to know about it.”