Times editor James Harding arrives to give evidence at the
Leveson Inquiry in London in February. Harding has stepped
down as editor of the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper.
James Harding has stepped down as editor of Rupert
Murdoch's Times of London on in the latest upheaval at the
mogul's troubled British newspaper business.
No formal reason was given but Harding indicated the decision
had been forced on him in his resignation speech to staff.
"It has been made clear to me that News Corporation would
like to appoint a new editor of The Times," said Harding, who
was one of the youngest journalists to get the job when he
took over in 2007.
"I have therefore agreed to stand down. I called Rupert this
morning to offer my resignation and he accepted it," he said
in quotes reported by his own newspaper.
Harding, 43, will leave at the end of the month, according to
a statement from News International, the British newspaper
arm of Murdoch's News Corp.
The resignation comes at a tumultuous time for News
International after Tom Mockridge stepped down as chief
executive last week and in the wake of the phone-hacking
scandal at the now defunct the News of the World, part of
Murdoch's British newspaper stable.
Murdoch, who is splitting his empire into two companies,
separating his newspaper and publishing businesses from the
more profitable film and TV interests, installed Mike Darcey,
a former economist known for signing commercial deals and
boosting subscription revenues, as Mockridge's replacement.
Harding himself was criticised by a public inquiry which was
set up by Prime Minister David Cameron to examine press
ethics following the public furore over phone-hacking.
He was forced to apologise to the inquiry, headed by senior
judge Brian Leveson, in February after admitting that one of
the paper's reporters had hacked the email of an anonymous
police blogger in 2009 to expose his identity.
People familiar with the situation at News International have
speculated that John Witherow, the editor of the Times's
sister paper, the Sunday Times, might replace Harding.
In its statement, News International merely said the national
independent directors of The Times would be consulted on a
"James has been a distinguished editor for The Times,
attracting talented staff to the paper and leading it through
difficult times," Murdoch said. "I have great respect for him
as a colleague and friend, and truly hope we can work
Britain's national press, which has been struggling with
declining readership in recent years, has also been reeling
from Leveson's damning inquiry which called for a new
legislation-backed watchdog to police the sometimes
"outrageous" behaviour of newspapers.
Harding was playing a key role in the industry's attempts to
come up with an effective system of self-regulation and
thereby avoid any press law which editors argue would amount
to state control.