'Spectator' publisher Kimberly Quinn quits post

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The Independent Online

There were many who expected that the scandal over Kimberly Quinn's affair with David Blunkett would necessitate her departure from the right wing magazine The Spectator.

She survived the furore but, two years on, the American publisher has announced she will be leaving the magazine to work for her family business.

Whether the decision to leave the magazine after 10 years was entirely Mrs Quinn's own was not clear after last night's announcement. More manifest was the fact that although the popularity of the magazine shot up during Mrs Quinn's tenure, she is more likely to be remembered for her part in earning the magazine the nickname "The Sextator".

It was the revelation that the married publisher was the Home Secretary's lover in the summer of 2004 that propelled the relatively little known right-wing publication into the spotlight.

But her affair was just one of three involving The Spectator to receive media attention in that year, leaving the public rapt at the levels of debauchery being exercised at 56 Doughty Street, the rambling Georgian house in Bloomsbury where the magazine was based.

Boris Johnson, its editor at the time, was forced to resign from the Tory front bench after news of his affair with one of the columnists, PetronellaWyatt, broke. And the wife of fellow columnist and former editor of Radio 4's Today programme, Rod Liddle, gave a detailed expose of his affair with the magazine's receptionist.

Most explosive, however, were the allegations that Mr Blunkett used his position to fast-track the visa application of Mrs Quinn's nanny. It led to his resignation in November 2004. He denied the claims but revealed in his biography that the fall-out over the affair made him think he was "going mad".

Mrs Quinn, meanwhile, rode out the media storm, managing to stay in post and remain married to her husband, the publishing director of Vogue, Stephen Quinn.

Yesterday, she said in a statement that working at the magazine had been "always challenging and always entertaining".

But she had decided to accept an invitation from her family to become more involved with their businesses and properties, she said, and as it would entail "constant travel", to continue working at The Spectator "was not an option".

In April this year, Mrs Quinn dismissed rumours that she may be about to leave after the arrival of Mr Johnson's replacement, Matthew d'Ancona. The chief executive, Andrew Neil, was "very happy with my performance in my job," she said.

Mr Neil gave no indication yesterday that Mrs Quinn's decision to leave was anything other than her own. "During Kimberly's time at The Spectator, the magazine has moved to new levels, becoming by far the most successful political weekly in the country," he said in a statement to staff, adding: "She will be missed but we wish every success in her future endeavours."

Mr D'Ancona, meanwhile, praised her wisdom and said he expected her to go "from strength to strength".

Precisely what Mrs Quinn's new endeavours will entail was another area left unclear last night.