When the music stops

Why look outside for a new editor when you can just play musical chairs with the ones you've got? By Jojo Moyes
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The Independent Online
The Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and Spectator may be sister publications, but relations between them seem incestuous even by Fleet Street standards. Take the latest round in the continuing game of musical chairs that seems to constitute Canadian proprietor Conrad Black's staffing arrangements.

Last week Dominic Lawson was appointed editor of the Sunday Telegraph. Lawson was previously editor of the Spectator and happens to be the son of a former Spectator editor, ex-city editor of the Sunday Telegraph and sometime Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson.

Lawson junior inherited his position as Spectator editor from Charles Moore, who had left the magazine to become deputy to the then Daily Telegraph editor, Max Hastings, before being moved swiftly sideways to assume editorship of the Sunday. And there Moore remained until last week, when he was finally named (after a prolonged delay) as Hastings's successor, leaving his Sunday seat free for Lawson to fill.

Meanwhile Frank Johnson, once a leader writer on the Daily Telegraph and latterly deputy editor on the Sunday, has moved into the editorial chair at the Spectator so recently vacated by the ex-Chancellor's son. To complicate things even further, while Lawson can claim much of the credit for the Spectator's recent success, the trend was inaugurated as long ago as 1975 by his predecessor, Alexander Chancellor, currently editor of the Sunday Telegraph Magazine.

Amid all these comings and goings, last week saw the resignation of the emphatically right-wing Simon Heffer, whose appointment as Hastings's deputy on the Daily last June was said by many to bear the handprint of Black himself. If Heffer's departure came as a surprise, the elevation of Frank Johnson also runs somewhat against the grain of what has seemed a strictly Eton-Charterhouse-Oxbridge-Daddy-is-in-Politics recruitment drive. But younger players to watch in the merry-go-round include Petronella Wyatt (daughter of Lord Woodrow "Voice of Reason" Wyatt, Sunday Telegraph political columnist and Spectator contributor) and William Cash (son of right-wing Tory MP Bill). Cash was the subject of a formal protest to Conrad Black from the Board of Deputies of British Jews after he wrote a controversial Spectator piece about Jews in Hollywood. Board members were privately worried that the article would affect advertising revenue. This failed to happen and Cash still writes regularly for the Daily Telegraph.