Business

Times newspaper editor James Harding to quit

  • 12 December 2012
  • From the section Business
James Harding
James Harding was editor of the Times newspaper, part of News International Group, for five years

The editor of the Times, James Harding, has announced his resignation.

His move comes on the day parent company News International revealed £10.8m in severance pay, understood to be for its former boss Rebekah Brooks.

James Harding will leave within a month and is expected to be replaced by Sunday Times editor John Witherow.

Mrs Brooks resigned as chief executive of News International because of phone-hacking allegations at the now-closed News of the World newspaper.

In an address to staff, Mr Harding implied that the decision was not entirely his: "It has been made clear to me that News Corporation would like to appoint a new editor of the Times.

"I have, therefore, agreed to stand down. I called Rupert this morning to offer my resignation and he accepted it," he said.

Mr Harding could move to Mr Murdoch's publishing firm, Harper Collins, BBC business editor Robert Peston says.

Losses

The News International Group, the News Corporation subsidiary which owns both the Times titles as well as the Sun newspaper and formerly published the News of the World, published its latest accounts.

They revealed losses of £153m in the year to July 2012, compared with a profit of £113m a year earlier.

The group said one of the main causes of the loss, £46.6m, was the closure of the News of the World, which folded in July 2011 in the wake of allegations of widespread phone hacking.

That figure included a £10.8m "compensation for loss of office" payment, which is understood was paid to Rebekah Brooks, who resigned shortly after the final edition of the NOTW was published.

She was a former editor of the News of the World who rose to chief executive of News International.

The company said this financial year contained a "high level of uncertainty" in respect of potential damages and legal costs which may be payable as result of the legal action by those alleging their private messages were intercepted by the News of the World in search of stories.

It said it had set aside £17.5m "in respect of claimants legal fees and damages".

A number of individuals have received compensation payments, including the parents of murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler and the singer, Charlotte Church.

Split

The change at the Times newspaper comes hard on the heels of another move at the top of Mr Murdoch's company.

Last week, the chief executive of News International, the News Corporation subsidiary whose assets include the Times newspapers, said he would leave his role before the end of the month.

Tom Mockridge had taken over from Mrs Brooks in July 2011.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp, said Mr Mockridge's decision was "absolutely and entirely his own".

The announcement comes as News Corp plans to split into two businesses, separating its newspaper and book publishing interests from its now dominant and much more profitable TV and film enterprises.

Rupert Murdoch said: "James has been a distinguished editor for the Times, attracting talented staff to the paper and leading it through difficult times.

"I have great respect for him as a colleague and friend, and truly hope we can work together again."

Mr Harding, who is 43, was one of the youngest journalists to take charge of the paper.

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