The Times moves leader column amid series of changes to opinion section

The Times has moved its leader column from page two to sit alongside readers’ letters on page 26.

The decision to reposition the leader to the middle of the paper is among a series of changes announced by acting editor John Witherow in a letter to readers today.

In the letter, Witherow said: “I've decided to move the leaders back in the paper because readers have been finding it perplexing to read editorials on current affairs before they've read the underlying news story.”

He added that the leader “will remain the beating heart of the newspaper” while pages two and three can be given over “to project big breaking stories”.

Besides moving the leader to a more traditional slot, several Times contributors have been given regular slots. Current staffers Roger Boyes, Gaby Hinsliff, Oliver Kamm and Matt Ridley will pen weekly columns, while BBC Radio 4’s Justin Webb has been brought in as “an occasional contributor”.

Meanwhile, Matthew Parris has been given a second column to go alongside his regular Saturday slot, while regular columnists David Aaronovitch, Daniel Finkelstein and Janice Turner will contribute additional “diary-style pieces”.

In the sports section, former England cricket captain Mike Brearley and ex-England rugby player Paul Ackford have been added to the roster.

“The Times is different from Britain’s other newspapers”, Witherow’s letter continued. “Most are dominated by voices from the Left or Right. In contrast, readers of The Times can find a variety of opinions from across the political spectrum. That adds up to a more intellectually stimulating experience. The new contributors will ensure we provide you with more comment on foreign affairs, science, ethics and economics.”

Witherow was appointed acting editor of The Times in January following the departure of James Harding in December 2012. The appointment was understood to be only on an acting basis due to concerns the independent directors of Times Newspapers had about legal undertakings from proprietor Rupert Murdoch to keep the Sunday and daily titles separate.

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