As Thomson departs, new generation takes over at 'The Times'

It was a day for meteoric career rises at The Times yesterday. The editor Robert Thomson's long-anticipated departure to head Rupert Murdoch's prized latest acquisition, the Wall Street Journal, stepped into first gear. And the newspaper's youthful business editor James Harding was propelled into the editor's shoes.

After five years at the helm of The Thunderer, Mr Thomson is leaving next week to become publisher of the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Dow Jones.

Mr Harding, 38, will take over as editor with immediate effect, after the independent directors of Times Newspapers Holdings approved his promotion.

Mr Murdoch said: "Under Robert Thomson's leadership, The Times has gone from strength to strength and I am confident James is the editor to build on Robert's success. James has enjoyed an outstanding career as a correspondent and editorial executive. His experience working in Britain and around the world equips him ideally to take on the job of editing The Times."

The Australian-born Mr Thomson, 46, who will wish his staff farewell at a party on 20 December at Skylon at the Royal Festival Hall, played a key role in helping Mr Murdoch to buy the respected US business title. Mr Thomson become editor of The Times in 2002 after a spell at the Financial Times. During his time at the newspaper, he oversaw its transition from broadsheet to compact publication. A low-key, personable man, he is close to Mr Murdoch they speak on the phone most days.

His successor, James Harding, was part of Mr Thomson's clique at the Financial Times. Educated at St Paul's School in London, where he was a near contemporary of the shadow Chancellor George Osborne, and Trinity College, Cambridge, Mr Harding has a reputation as a fantastic schmoozer and is friendly with James Murdoch, who will be his boss in his new role as chairman and chief executive of News Corp in Europe and Asia.

Mr Harding is also renowned for his linguistic abilities. He is fluent in Japanese, Chinese, French and German. He joined the FT in 1994 as a corporate reporter and went on to run the Shanghai bureau from 1996 to 1999, and had stints as the paper's media editor and Washington bureau chief from 2002 to 2005.

As media editor of the FT in 2002, Mr Harding was given his first opportunity to impress Mr Murdoch when he interviewed him over a three-hour lunch at which they discussed everything from retirement to the mogul's relationship with God, touching on Bill Gates, the future of television, the British monarchy and the euro.

In August 2006, he was poached by Mr Thomson to head the business section of The Times. He is the latest in a series of business editors to climb into the editor's chair, following Will Lewis at the Daily Telegraph and Patience Wheatcroft, the recently deposed editor of the Sunday Telegraph, who was Harding's predecessor as business editor of The Times.

Mr Thomson paid tribute to his successor, saying: "I have cherished my time at The Times, which will be in the very capable hands of James Harding, one of the most outstanding British journalists of his generation."

James Murdoch, who is about to take the reins at News International, publisher of The Times, also had high praise for the newspaper's new editor. He said: "James is a tremendous journalist and executive there is no better choice to lead The Times in this exciting period. I've known, respected, and trusted James for years, and I'm looking forward to working with him."

For his part, Mr Harding said he was "delighted" to succeed Mr Thomson.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Graduate Digital Marketing Assistant - Wimbledon

£18000 - £19000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Digital Marketin...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Advisor

£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A chance to work for an extreme...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'