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19 February 2010

Editor Rod Liddle? Not any more

Lebedev bows to the inevitable.

By George Eaton

Well, that’s a relief. Rod Liddle is out of the running to be editor of the Independent, according to the Guardian. A source told the paper that the “liberal howl-around” was so intense that Alexander Lebedev (who has yet to buy the Indy after all) has been forced to reconsider.

Lebedev’s decision to court Liddle so publicly, in a manner grossly insulting to the present editor, Roger Alton, was always destined to end in farce.

I see that Tim Luckhurst is the latest person to run with the absurd line that those of us who opposed the idea of Liddle’s appointment were attempting to “censor” the Sunday Times columnist. In fact, we merely suggested that a man who spends most of his time ridiculing greens, feminists and liberals perhaps wasn’t best placed to edit a title read by all three of those groups.

The Independent may not be the force it once was, but in recent years it has featured some of the finest foreign affairs journalism on Fleet Street, notably Patrick Cockburn’s exemplary reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan. It always deserved better than Liddle.

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Where this leaves the paper now is unclear. The deadline for Lebedev to buy the title has been extended to next Friday and he is still likely to do so. But the fact he pursued Liddle for as long as he did has ensured that he will inherit a paper with a staff more demoralised than ever.

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