The Editor of The Times, Peter Stothard, told staff on the newspaper yesterday that he will be absent for several months undergoing chemotherapy treatment for a tumour.
News International, which owns The Times, confirmed that Mr Stothard has a tumour of the pancreas that is not cancerous. "He will be back editing in a few months," a spokeswoman said.
Mr Stothard's imminent absence had caused speculation over whether he was out of favour with the newpaper's proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, despite the fact that The Times and its editor recently won two top journalism prizes at the What the Papers Say awards.
Mr Stothard said yesterday: "I felt this was a private matter between Sally [his wife], me and our children, but as a journalist I should have known better." He said he decided to reveal the health problem when The Guardian speculated that his leave was related to the paper's dispute with Michael Ashcroft, the Tory party treasurer.