But the station insisted that Steve Boulton's decision to leave ITV's flagship documentary had nothing to do with what happened in the High Court. "It is an unfortunate coincidence but it has absolutely no connection with that ruling," said Charles Tremayne, controller of factual programmes.
"We were hoping to have a planned handover, but someone leaked the story to the trade press last week." And he added: "The programme [which prompted M&S to sue] was actually put to bed by me because Steve happened to be on holiday that week."
Mr Tremayne paid tribute to the outgoing editor's "very successful four- year run", the high point of which was a famous libel victory against the disgraced Tory MP Jonathan Aitken.
Mr Boulton is being replaced by Jeff Anderson, Granada's head of regional programmes, and there isstrong speculation that the programme will become more consumer-based. Mr Anderson said: "My job is to widen its appeal whilst keeping its values intact."Reuse content