The macho man who ran his newsroom with an iron fist

For once, Ian Edmondson was scared. One of the most macho journalists in Fleet Street, he found himself struck by a flying beer bottle as England fans rioted in the picturesque Belgian town of Charleroi. "It was terrifying," he later told his readers. "My only thought was to get out of there – fast."

A decade after that incident at the Euro 2000 football championships, Edmondson has greater problems than simply "nursing my aching head". Suspended by Rupert Murdoch's News Group from his role as assistant editor with responsibility for news at the News of the World, he finds himself at the centre of the long-running media scandal; the subject of an internal investigation into a "serious allegation" that he was involved in the phone-hacking of private voicemail messages – and he may be required to give evidence to the police.

Mr Edmondson, who is in his early forties, is from the old school of tabloid journalism. Until his sudden suspension – while he was on his Christmas break – he had ruled the newsroom at Wapping, east London, with an iron fist. Described by those who have worked with him as a "micro-manager" and a "complete control freak", he felt responsible for delivering the editor the weekly "splash", the front-page story that is all-important to sales of a weekly tabloid.

When the News of the World had a big scoop, such as a string of recent exclusives on match-fixing in cricket, Sarah Ferguson's "cash-for-access" shame and Wayne Rooney's use of prostitutes, Mr Edmondson was not slow to take credit. But he was fiercely competitive with rival departments within his own newspaper. Experienced in the cut-throat office politics of red-top papers, he was deft at distancing himself from ideas that had not worked and calling in from holiday to play a role in big stories. He arrived at the market-leading tabloid during the editorship of Andy Coulson, now director of communications for David Cameron.

Mr Edmondson was recruited by Mr Coulson's deputy Neil Wallis, who had admired his steely qualities when they worked together at The People. After replacing James Weatherup as news editor, he established himself as the biggest beast in the newsroom, having daily contact with the editor – and four or five meetings on Saturdays.

If the phone hacking culture really did extend beyond a single rogue reporter – and News Group has until now emphatically denied that it did – then Mr Edmondson, the "vortex" of the News of the World newsroom, would know who knew about it.

As a reporter, Mr Edmondson, who is from the North of England, had an instinct for classic tabloid scoops, such as a kiss and tell exposé of Lord Archer and gangster Reggie Kray's release from jail. Showing his tough guy side, he noted in a feature on white-collar boxing how he sent his opponent – a former Army boxing champ – "sprawling" and mentioned he had "run a few marathons". But – somewhat bizarrely – he is also a former Butlins Redcoat and is said to be a devoted father to his three children.

While at The People he performed a charity run for a children's hospice. When his wife, Julia, was carrying their first child, Mr Edmondson took her to the Maldives for a travel article in which he was pictured in the Indian Ocean as the "King of Swim". Noting that his wife was pregnant within five months of marriage, he joked: "I've never been one to mess about."

He has had previous journalistic problems. In an earlier spell at the News of the World as a reporter, he wrote a story claiming that Granada Television had spent £22,900 on treating the suspects of the Stephen Lawrence murder to an "all-expenses-paid 15-day jaunt", including golf, fishing and go-karting trips and tickets to a Scottish Cup semi-final. The suspects were taken to a neutral location ahead of filming with the interviewer Martin Bashir, but the costs related to accommodation and transport amounting to £7,115.

Granada complained of a "very serious attack on its reputation and journalistic integrity". News Group Newspapers said Mr Edmondson "honestly believed his sources", but accepted that the allegations were "untrue" and paid undisclosed damages to a charity.

A few years later, News Group was happy for News of the World to hire Mr Edmondson for its news desk. This week it has been less sympathetic.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web / Digital Analyst - Google Analytics, Omniture

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Sales Perfomance Manager. Marylebone, London

£45-£57k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

Social Media Director (Global) - London Bridge/Southwark

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Social Media Director (Gl...

Personal and Legal Assistant – Media and Entertainment

£28,000 - £31,000: Sauce Recruitment: A Global media business based in West Lo...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice