Hall: "the most glorious job"
Editor-in-chief Phil Hall is to quit Hello! after just 15 months to move to the Press Association’s Yorkshire operation as managing director of its contract publishing division.
Hall is at pains to insist his dealings with Hello! owner Eduardo Sanchez were and remain amicable and that he is to stay with the celebrity weekly as a consultant.
But inside sources claim his period in the chair has been far from easy after his budget was cut and there were reports of a split between him and contacts supremo the Marquesa de Varela over the buy-up of the Liz Hurley baby story.
Hall retorted that it was "totally, 100 per cent untrue" that his departure was linked to Hello! not getting the story. Negotiations have only just begun following Damian’s birth and no one has yet clinched the deal.
Of his relationship with Sanchez, he said: "Fantastic. He would not be a good proprietor if he sat back and said ‘do whatever you like.’ Proprietors question and argue and pore over the fine details and Eduardo is one of the most successful proprietors in the world."
Hello! publishing director Sally Cartwright, speaking for Sanchez, said: "We are all very sad that Phil is leaving us, when he has made such a success of editing Hello! We wanted to continue our excellent relationship with him because of the high value we place on his work."
Hall has been talking to PA chief executive Paul Potts for about seven weeks, well before his resignation last Thursday. His new job will see him co-ordinate the resources of several hundred staff at PA’s Howden centre to allow for the expansion of the contract publishing division, which already manages production of The Business, Sport First and the Seven Days section of Hello!
The division will seek to sell more of its page-ready production to other magazines and newspapers.
Hall, who will stay at Hello! until a successor is found, said: "I am going because I have been offered the most glorious job. I thought about it for a long time because Hello! obviously has a wonderful profile and a very exciting job. But once I knew the full circumstances of the PA job, I couldn’t resist it."
Potts felt a move to Yorkshire might be a problem for Hall but the latter told him: "That would be a huge, huge plus for me. I have long wanted to get out of London and my children’s grandparents live in Yorkshire."
Former Conservative Party spin doctor Amanda Platell, mooted as his successor at Hello! – where sales have gone up 5 per cent on the back of a string of recent celebrity exclusives – refused to comment.
A strong candidate for the Hello! chair could also be Hall’s deputy, Roger Kasper, a former features editor of the Sunday Mirror and previously at the News of the World and OK!