Surprise victor with record as all-rounder

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The Independent Online

Sly Bailey may have taken considerable time to make up her mind, but she couldn't have produced a bigger shock in selecting Richard Wallace as the 19th editor of the Daily Mirror had she pulled a rabbit out of a hat and given it a green eyeshade.

Sly Bailey may have taken considerable time to make up her mind, but she couldn't have produced a bigger shock in selecting Richard Wallace as the 19th editor of the Daily Mirror had she pulled a rabbit out of a hat and given it a green eyeshade.

Wallace was the internal candidate to whom few gave credence in the Canary Wharf gossip factory once it became known that potential candidates from outside Trinity Mirror were no longer in the frame.

Talking to Mirror staff this week, it became obvious that there had been no leak as to who was going to be next to sip from what might be considered the poisoned chalice of national editorships. But Phil Hall, a former editor of the News of the World now running Mirror Group's magazine unit, and Tina Weaver, one-time deputy to Piers Morgan and Wallace's boss at the Sunday Mirror , were believed to be way out in front.

At 43, Wallace has seen off the favourites to step into the role vacated by a younger man. To a certain extent, he has Morgan to thank for his rise to the top. After a successful working relationship with Morgan that saw them create the now much-mimicked 3am Girls, Wallace was dispatched to New York for a 10-month stint before returning to oversee the paper's news operation.

Tina Weaver took him with her as her deputy when given command of the Sunday Mirror . This gave Wallace experience on the third of the group's national titles - he worked for me at The People when I edited it more than a decade ago.

Having previously reported for the Daily Mail and The Sun , he has the popular journalistic background necessary if he is to halt the Daily Mirror 's savage decline in sales. His editorial direction is unlikely to include any of the political campaigning for which Morgan will probably be remembered. Wallace is, if you like, Morgan Lite - Piers without the element of danger that surrounded him.

Far from needling the Government and antagonising Cherie Blair, Wallace will be concentrating on froth, fun and, no doubt, football.

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