Geordie Greig ousted as editor of the Daily Mail | Geordie Greig

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Geordie Greig has been ousted as editor of the Daily Mail after just three years in the job, in a move that could change the recently hostile relationship between the rightwing newspaper and Downing Street.

The move follows the announcement on Monday that the Daily Mail’s parent company would rejig its executive team to promote a key online executive at the expense of London-based staff with a background in print newspapers.

Until now the highly profitable Daily Mail print edition, which is the UK’s biggest selling newspaper and retains substantial political influence, had continued to operate almost entirely independently from the more celebrity-focused MailOnline website.

This relatively strict separation is now expected to change, although a full merger between the outlets is not on the cards at this stage.

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In recent weeks Greig’s newspaper has been one of the fiercest critics of Boris Johnson’s handling of corruption allegations, helping to force Downing Street into a U-turn over its handling of the Owen Paterson affair.

His outlet also exposed how Tory MP Geoffrey Cox was earning hundreds of thousands of pounds working in the Caribbean while representing a tax haven in legal proceedings involving the British government. It ran the front page headline “shameless MPs sink back into sleaze”, accusing politicians of “moral bankruptcy” over their attempts to stop Paterson being punished after being found to have broken parliamentary rules.

Staff at the Daily Mail suggested Greig was caught off-guard by Monday’s decision to promote Richard Caccappolo – an American media executive based in New York – to become chief executive of the company’s media business.

Caccappolo has worked with the MailOnline editor, Martin Clarke, to build the website into a global success story.

One source said the move to replace Greig was a “power grab by Clarke”.

Greig will be replaced by the Mail on Sunday editor, Ted Verity, who will have oversight of both titles, hinting that the sister newspapers could increasingly operate as a combined operation.

Until now they have had separate staff and editorial agendas but there is no plan to appoint a replacement full-time Sunday editor.

Verity is a close ally of former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre and spent years serving him as deputy editor before being appointed as Mail on Sunday editor in 2018.

He took the Remain-backing paper and turned it pro-Brexit, while also reporting critically on Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. The member of the royal family subsequently sued the paper after the Mail on Sunday obtained and published a letter she sent her father, with the legal proceedings still ongoing at the high court.

Last year Verity wrote a letter to the Guardian defending his paper’s coverage of Marcus Rashford’s investments in buy-to-let homes. Verity insisted his coverage was not part of a racist “rightwing plot” to discredit the England footballer’s campaign to force the government to provide free school meals to children. Instead, he said it was instead “simply an interesting story” and “it’s only people on the left who think there’s anything wrong with becoming a buy-to-let landlord”.

The announcement of Greig’s departure was made by Lord Rothermere, the controlling shareholder of the Daily Mail’s parent company. He is in the process of delisting the business from the stock market and taking it back into private ownership as part of a complicated series of financial transactions which will result in a slimmed-down media business which will also own titles including the UK edition of the Metro and the i newspaper.

It comes just days after the Guardian revealed that Greig’s predecessor Paul Dacre, a leading candidate for the job of Ofcom chair, had himself departed the company after more than 40 years with the business.

Greig said: “I thank everyone who has worked with me; my colleagues have been heroic and inspiring. I wish my successor, Ted Verity, good luck and also continued good fortune to the Mail. I look forward to new opportunities ahead and will bring the best of what I learned from my years at the Mail, which I first joined in 1983 as its most junior reporter on the graveyard shift.”

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