Two of Fleet Street’s most long-standing editors were sacked on the spot from their jobs at the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror today amid further turmoil at the troubled news publishing group Trinity Mirror.
Richard Wallace, editor of the Daily Mirror for the past eight years, and Tina Weaver, who has led the Sunday Mirror for 11 years, were told to leave after being summoned to a meeting with Trinity Mirror Managing Director Mark Hollinshead, who told them their papers would be merged into a seven-day publishing operation in which they would play no part.
The seven-day operation strategy had been overseen by the company’s chief executive Sly Bailey, who is stepping down at the end of the year following shareholder dissatisfaction with the group’s performance under her leadership. The firings of Wallace and Weaver, who have a close relationship, were approved by the Trinity Mirror board yesterday but were seen by journalists as a parting gesture from Ms Bailey who had been angered by the pair’s opposition to her streamlining plans. “There has been resistance to the seven-day operation for the last couple of years and that’s something the chief executive is unhappy with,” said one well-placed source.
The sackings were rubber stamped by the board on the day that David Grigson, a former finance chief at Reuters and and the publisher Emap, took up his new role as chairman.
The company has appointed Lloyd Embley, the former editor of The People, as editor of both Mirror titles. Embley, who attended the private Malvern College and is a keen golfer and skier, joined the Daily Mirror as a sub-editor in 1994 and recently appeared as a witness at the Leveson inquiry where he said he was “not aware” of phone hacking having taken place at The People.
After accepting his new role, Embley stood on a desk in the Mirror’s newsroom, high up in the Canada Square tower in London’s Canary Wharf, and told journalists “We’re in this together”.
A shocked Wallace sent an email to his former staff imploring them to remain true to the “values” of the Daily Mirror and reminding them they had a duty to serve their readers. He said: “After 22 years on the world’s greatest paper it is time to move on – if rather unexpectedly”.
Wallace, a former showbusiness reporter who was given a traditional “banging out” send off by Mirror journalists as he left the office, has been editing the red top since the spectacular firing of Piers Morgan in 2004 over a scandal that followed the paper’s publication of faked photographs purporting to show the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British troops. Morgan has since become a television personality with his own show on the American network CNN.
Trinity Mirror buried news of the departure of its two editors in the seventh paragraph of a news release announcing its “move to seven day publishing”. Despite Wallace’s firing, Mr Hollinshead argued that the Daily Mirror has recently been performing well. “The Daily Mirror is as strong as ever with year on year circulation trends, despite widespread cut price competition, out performing the market in 11 out of the last 12 months.”
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, accused Ms Bailey of a “monumental lack of vision” and described Trinity Mirror as a “company in crisis”. She said: “It says a lot about the board of Trinity Mirror that they have allowed chief executive Sly Bailey, finally on her way out after presiding over stupendous decline, to push such drastic measures through.”
The editors' biographies
Richard Wallace, 51, began his career at the Leicester Mercury at the age of 18, and made his name working on the Daily Mirror’s showbusiness desk. The highlight of his eight year editorship was the Daily Mirror being named Newspaper of the Year at the What the Papers Say awards in 2006.
Tina Weaver, 47, has been a tabloid journalist for more than 20 years. She started her national newspaper career at The People and was named Reporter of the Year for her work at Today newspaper in 1993. She became editor of the Sunday Mirror in 2001 and has been a member of the Press Complaints Commission.
Lloyd Embley, 46, educated at Malvern College and trained in local newspapers in Northamptonshire before joining the Daily Mirror as a sub-editor in 1994. He became editor of The People in 2008. He is the first seven day editor of the Mirror titles.