Observer executive editor news Kamal Ahmed has left the paper to work for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Ahmed is the Observer’s former political editor and previously worked as the Guardian’s media editor and Royal correspondent when Princess Diana died.
The high-flying journalist has been seen by many as a possible future editor of the paper.
Ahmed told Press Gazette: ‘It’s been a difficult decision; I’ve loved every minute of working for the Observer. I was fortunate enough to be part of a team that took the paper to Berliner, this year we won Newspaper of the Year, commercially, editorially all the numbers are brilliant and I’m proud of my role in that.
‘I went through some of the great events; 9/11 attacks, the build up of the Iraq war, the death of David Kelly and the general election of 2005. The Observer and the Guardian have both been a real privilege to work for.”
‘The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a new, exciting organisation it’s a subject close to my heart trying to find a new language that everyone can engage in not just discrete interest groups.
‘It’s a big opportunity to do something which demands completely different skills.”
In an email to staff, editor Roger Alton said: “A sad moment for me personally, and I am sure for everyone: Kamal Ahmed has announced that he will be leaving the Observer in due course to take up a senior post as a Director of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission.
“I am sure there will be a chance to say these things more fully in the days ahead, but I am sure I speak for everyone when I say how much he will be missed. Over many years, he has performed outstanding service for this newspaper, first as a brilliant, skillful, and scoop-garnering Political Editor; and more recently as a formidable Head of News.
“Under Kamal, our political coverage became hugely significant; and our news operation really brilliant (just look at how much our stories were followed up) as he has put together a truly wonderful team of reporters and specialists. Anybody who has looked at the paper, especially since the Berliner, cansee how much he has done.
“He was also one of the few utterly key peopleinvolved in the Berliner project. Kamal worked with little fuss but supreme efficiency (and great humour) with the team and as a result the switch tothe new format went flawlessly. Since then he has gone from strength to strength, as has the newspaper I believe.
“He is a great journalist, and a great friend. I have known Kamal personally and professionally for many years, and I shall miss his verve, his charm,his ability, and of course his suits, immensely. I know we all will.”