By Dominic Ponsford
Sarah Sands is leaving the Sunday Telegraph after just eight months as editor to be replaced by well-established Times business editor Patience Wheatcroft (pictured).
Press Gazette has learned that Sands’ departure was the decision of editor-in-chief John Bryant – who was appointed in November. According to one insider there has been a falling out between the pair.
Sands is a former deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph who had been with the Telegraph Group for 11 years.
In December she unveiled a £2 million revamp of the Sunday Telegraph with two new magazines which has not been a huge circulation success. In the last monthly ABC figures the Sunday Telegraph was 1.35 per cent down year-on-year to 682,739.
Wheatcroft said: “The Sunday Telegraph is a great newspaper and I am very excited by the challenge of taking over the leadership at this very opportune moment of a paper that stands for so many of the things I believe in. I have had a wonderful time at the Times but after nine years feel ready to hand over to my fine team there.”
Wheatcroft, 54, has been Business and City Editor of The Times since 1997 and regularly edits the newspaper in the absence of the editor.
Before coming to The Times, Wheatcroft worked on the financial sections of the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail and The Sunday Times and was editor of Retail Week.
In 2001 she won the Winscott Senior Journalist of the Year Award and in 2003 was made London Press Club Business Journalist of the Year. She is married with three children.
Sands, who was deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph between 1996 and 2005, took over the Sunday title from Dominic Lawson last June. In November, Sands lead a £2m relaunch that included replacing the paper’s traditional black gothic masthead introducing two magazine supplements.
Sands’ departure follows the abrupt sacking of her predecessor Dominic Lawson after 10 years in the job in June last year.
It is understood that staff were only informed of her departure when an email announcement was released by Telegraph managers at midday today.
When informed of the rumour that she was going by Press Gazette, one insider said: "I would be extremely surprised if that was true as she has been making plans for the summer and talking about targets for when things will turn around. It also wouldn’t reflect well on [chief executive] Murdoch MacLennan and doesn’t make him look like a very safe pair of hands."
Sands’ husband Kim Fletcher was forced to leave his job as editorial director of Telegraph Group following her appointment because it was seen as a possible conflict of interest.