Williams quits Express to join arch rival

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The Independent Online

The editor of the Daily Express shocked Fleet Street last night by jumping ship to his paper's arch-rival the Daily Mail.

Chris Williams, who has been in charge of the newspaper since January 2001, will edit the Scottish edition of the Daily Mail. That will infuriate the Express's proprietor, Richard Desmond, who has been at war with the Rothermere family, which controls the Mail.

Peter Hill, the editor of the Daily Star, replaces Mr Williams at the Express with immediate effect.

Mr Hill has had a successful five years at the Daily Star, and was last year named Editor of the Year in the What the Papers Say awards.

Brian MacLaurin, a spokesman for Express Newspapers, said: "Peter's record speaks for itself. He has been a superb editor of the Daily Star, making it the fastest-growing national newspaper in Great Britain over the last two years.

"We are delighted to confirm his place as the new editor of the Daily Express and we are looking forward to his commitment to that newspaper, bringing good results."

Mr MacLaurin added: "Chris Williams has been a superb editor. He has worked to halt the 20-year decline in circulation."Mr MacLaurin said the company will announce Mr Hill's successor at the Star early next week.

A spokesman for the Express group said: "Chris Williams has done a great job. We are very sorry to lose him and wish him every success in the future."

But those who know Mr Desmond believe he is likely to turn on his former employee. Friends of Mr Williams, a former assistant editor at the Daily Mail, say his decision to leave followed his refusal to implement a swath of job cuts. When Mr Williams arrived as editor three years ago he was ordered to cut 150 journalists' jobs. When next year's budget was negotiated with Mr Desmond, it became clear that more redundancies were on the cards.

The move is likely to reignite a war between the rival proprietors, both of whom are currently eyeing up the possibility of buying The Daily Telegraph.

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