The red-top redhead who became the first lady of Fleet Street

Editor of The Sun promoted to run all Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers

Twenty years ago she joined the News of the World as a lowly researcher. Last night, Rebekah Wade celebrated becoming one of the most powerful women in British business and Rupert Murdoch's representative on Fleet Street.

Ms Wade, 41, was yesterday promoted from editor of The Sun to chief executive of Murdoch's British print empire, News International. She will preside over five titles: The Sun, the News of the World, The Times, the Sunday Times and London freesheet thelondonpaper.

The Sorbonne-educated journalist and the Australian proprietor, 78, finalised the deal when he arrived in London last week. Ms Wade will answer to Murdoch's son, James, who has been promoted to executive chairman of the business.

She will clear her editor's desk formally in September, by which time Murdoch plans to name a replacement. The front-runner is her deputy Dominic Mohan, who has a strong celebrity and features pedigree and a cheeky sense of humour, although he will face a fierce contest, perhaps against Daily Mirror editor Richard Wallace. "If it was a question of just signing off the paperwork, it would have been announced," said a source.

Ms Wade, an experienced operator with a phosphorescent ambition and a a glittering social network encompassing business, politics and showbusiness, has long coveted the position. She has been on overseas business trips with James Murdoch and has been finessing her business skills.

Rupert Murdoch described her as "a great campaigning editor who has worked her way up through the company with an energy and enthusiasm that reflects true passion for newspapers and an understanding of the crucial contribution that independent journalism makes to society".

He added: "I'm thrilled that Rebekah's energetic leadership will be felt even more widely in the company."

Ms Wade, the first female editor of The Sun and a founding member of Women in Journalism, has been at the helm for six-and-a-half years, during which time she cemented the newspaper's position as Britain's largest-selling daily, although circulation recently dipped below three million.

Her time editing the News of the World was noted for the paper's "Sarah's Law" campaign, which demanded the the right to know if convicted paedophiles were living nearby.

Ms Wade married the old Etonian writer and horse trainer Charlie Brooks earlier this month in a lakeside ceremony. They met at the home of Sun columnist Jeremy Clarkson. A recent feature about the couple in the magazine Tatler spoke of dinners with the likes of Bono, the Murdoch clan, public-relations guru Matthew Freud, various viscounts and the Prime Minister and his wife.

Staff will not miss her splenetic emails, which have entered Fleet Street legend. "How many of you woke up this morning, read the Daily Mirror and tendered your resignation?" began one such missive to reporters, after the paper was scooped by its man rival.

Her appointment as chief executive will lead to months of speculation about the game of musical chairs Murdoch has begun in the upper reaches of the company. John Witherow, the editor of the Sunday Times, is said to have been interested in the job of chief executive at one stage, but crossed swords with management over a price rise to £2 in 2006.

James Murdoch will be an "active executive chairman" and still based in Wapping.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - London - £40K plus benefits - Salary negotiable

£38000 - £40000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: A leading consu...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Manager

£55,000 - £65,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accountant with ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor