Sly Bailey left Trinity Mirror yesterday with immediate effect, as the troubled newspaper group performed a U-turn on plans for her to stay until the end of the year.
Long-serving finance director Vijay Vaghela takes over as interim chief executive from his old boss, who was at the helm of the group for nine-and-a-half years.
Ms Bailey is expected to walk away with almost £1m – equivalent to 12 months' pay in base salary and pension.
She announced her intention to step down as chief executive on 3 May, after a massive shareholder revolt over her £1.3m-a-year pay, but agreed to remain until a successor was found.
At the time, Trinity's then chairman, Sir Ian Gibson, dismissed suggestions that Ms Bailey was getting a £1m pay-off, saying she was working eight months of her notice. Her departure yesterday means she has worked just six weeks.
The group has been rocked by continued turmoil as it axed the editors of its two flagship newspapers, the Daily and Sunday Mirror, a fortnight ago.
Sir Ian also abruptly quit two months early, allowing his successor David Grigson to take over on 29 May.