THE future of a leading independent book publisher that lists Irvine Welsh and Janice Galloway among its writers is in question after one of its co-founders quit.

Adrian Searle, co-founder and director at Glasgow-based Freight Books, has left the company citing "differences over strategic direction".

Director Davinder Samrai, who set up the business with Mr Searle, said existing contracts would be honoured, but there was no further information about the long-term future of the publishing arm of the firm which also includes sister company Freight Design.

Freight Books publishes fiction, poetry, non-fiction and humour and it is the home of multiple award-winning authors including Ms Galloway, Dilys Rose and Kirstin Innes, while Trainspotting author Mr Welsh is listed as a contributor in the futuristic IDP: 2043.

Arts funding body Creative Scotland is in talks with Freight Books, 2015 Saltire Society Publisher of the Year winner, over the "recent developments".

Mr Searle said: “Following differences over strategic direction, and after six years as Publisher at Freight Books, and eight years as a director of Freight Design, with much regret I have decided to leave the business I own jointly and resign as a company director to pursue other interests.

"I wish the team at Freight Design and Freight Books’ authors the very best for the future.”

It was also just two years ago Mr Searle hailed the publisher's future after taking over one of his closest rivals.

He said then that he expected the takeover of fellow Glasgow-based independent publisher Cargo Publishing would lead to a bright future for both firms' authors.

Cargo titles co-published with Freight included a cookbook for Scottish homelessness social enterprise, Social Bite endorsed by George Clooney.

Freight has received grant cash from government funding agency Creative Scotland, and at one stage had to move to defend claims it had used part of a £70,000 grant to fund a book about SNP MPs called We Are The 56, saying none of the aid had been spent on the book and that a credit logo was printed on the book by mistake.

Freight's first publication, in 2002, was an anthology of writing about Scottish football entitled The Hope That Kills Us.

Among recent awards, Ms Innes' Fishnet won the Guardian Not the Booker Prize, Ms Galloway was shortlisted Saltire Scottish Book of the Year 2015 for Jellyfish and Ms Rose is a Canongate Prize, Society of Authors’ Travel Award and double Scottish Arts Council Awards winner.

Freight Design, was a triple-award winner at the Scottish Design Awards 2016 and whose clients include Scottish Power and the Citizen's Theatre, while Gutter was shortlisted for best magazine in the Saboteur Awards in the same year.

One author said: "This comes as a huge shock and is very worrying.

"Adrian has been the driving force behind Freight Books and now authors will be concerned with what happens to their books and the books that are meant to be coming out later this year.

"It is also a huge shame, as Freight Books were becoming a unique voice in Scottish publishing, especially their championing of debut authors.

"Hopefully the business can continue to back and promote new Scottish fiction.”

Mr Samrai said in a statement: "Freight Books intends to honour any/all legal obligations to our authors."

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland said: "We are aware of recent developments at Freight and will continue to discuss with them as appropriate.”