I was saddened to learn today that James Harding was urged to resign as Editor of The Times, a paper I subscribe to daily, and a position he has held for five particularly eventful years at a time when all newspaper sales are declining.
James led the paper’s digital transformation into the new media era and was a reasoned voice of the people, leading many successful campaigns, including adoption reforms and safer cycle routes in London, and providing excellent news coverage, particularly for the Olympics. These are campaigns which will make a difference to people’s lives and he was highly regarded by his staff; their heartfelt tributes to him can be read here.
I met James during the Conservative Party conference in Manchester in October 2009 when he was speaking at a fringe event. In this video which I recorded he is asked which political party his paper would be supporting. He refused to commit himself, saying “the one which earned it”. Seven months later, he pledged their support for David Cameron and the Conservative Party stating:
“Today’s Conservative Party is a very different party to that which went to the country in 2005. Mr Cameron has led that change. It is now clear that the modern Conservative Party believes in the importance of reducing the burden on enterprise and entrepreneurship. Its priorities on education, social policy and the environment are those of a modern, innovative force in politics. Its young leadership has the energy, intelligence and integrity to govern.”
James will leave within a month and is expected to be replaced by Sunday Times editor John Witherow. His resignation comes on the day parent company News International revealed £10.8m in severance pay, understood to be for its former boss Rebekah Brooks.
She need never work again. None of this makes sense to me …..
*More changes ahead following plans to merge The Times and Sunday Times are announed.