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Rosie Boycott
"I am fantastically proud of all the things we have done at the Express"
 real 28k

Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 17:55 GMT
Rosie Boycott quits Express
Rosie Boycott
Rosie Boycott: Has not seen eye-to-eye with new boss
Rosie Boycott, the editor of the Daily Express, and her deputy Chris Blackhurst, have left the paper "by mutual agreement".

Ms Boycott, who has been editor for the past three years, was previously editor of the Independent on Sunday.

Her post will be filled permanently by Chris Williams, formerly the paper's associate editor, Express Newspapers confirmed on Thursday.

It has been an open secret that Ms Boycott - who previously edited the feminist magazine Spare Rib - has not seen eye-to-eye with the Express's new proprietor, Richard Desmond, who made his money publishing soft porn magazines.

She had been in negotiations for the past six weeks about her future after Northern & Shell bought The Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star in a 125m deal two months ago.

Richard Desmond
Richard Desmond: Put "adult titles" on the market
A joint statement from the company and Ms Boycott said she and Mr Blackhurst would leave with "immediate effect".

The Express's editorial director, Paul Ashford, said Mr Williams was "an experienced and talented journalist whose appointment ensures the editorial continuity of the newspaper".

Mr Williams added: "It has always been my ambition to edit the Daily Express and it is a particular privilege to do so at this exciting time with a new proprietor and new challenges."

Ms Boycott told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme she had decide she wanted a new start.

"I think Richard Desmond wants a new start. I wish him all the best of luck with the paper," she said.

David and Victoria Beckham
OK! famously covered the Beckhams' wedding
"We are parting extremely amicably. We had an amicable divorce and as with all good divorces, the details will remain confidential."

She added she was "fantastically proud" of the work she had done on the Express and added: "I adore the paper so I am sad to go."

Paul Ashford, editorial director of Northern & Shell, said earlier: "Rosie and Chris both leave their considerable mark on the Daily Express and we wish them well for the future."

Mr Desmond, who owns celebrity title OK!, has said he wants Express sales, which have sunk to a little more than 1 million copies, to eventually overtake The Daily Mail, which sells about 2.5 million daily.

Cost-cutting

He succeeded in turning OK!, a loss-making title, into the market leader by paying out huge sums for celebrity exclusives, such as the 1m reportedly spent on David and Victoria Beckham's wedding.

But he still had to borrow 97m to buy Express newspapers, and has embarked on a savage cost-cutting programme since taking over the Express titles, which has included selling its websites.

He has also put his portfolio of soft porn magazines up for sale.

The sale of the titles, which include Asian Babes and Readers Wives, will raise much-needed cash for Mr Desmond's privately-held company to invest in the Express titles.

Boycott's awards

But the move was also seen as an attempt by Mr Desmond to distance himself from the pornography business.

Boycott was the first woman to edit a national broadsheet when she took over the Independent on Sunday in 1996.

Before that she spent four years as editor of men's magazine Esquire and almost doubled its circulation. She won an editor of the year award two years running, in 1993 and 1994.

Mr Williams began his journalistic career with the Press Association before joining the Daily Express in 1977 where he worked for ten years, rising to the rank of features editor.

In 1987 he joined the Daily Mail, also as features editor, before returning to the Express in 1995 as executive editor.

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Boycott's climb to the top
25 Jan 01 | Entertainment
A resignation waiting to happen
25 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Daily Express: A chequered history
11 Jan 01 | Business
Desmond to sell 'adult' titles
15 Dec 00 | Business
Express web staff hold out for buyer
22 Nov 00 | Business
OK! owner buys Express
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