Outgoing Cosmo editor's fury at maternity leave slur

Candy said the reaction of NatMags’ boss Edwards was ‘bizarre’

The resignation of Cosmopolitan editor Lorraine Candy has sparked a war of words over comments made by National Magazine Company boss Duncan Edwards in a press release announcing her departure.

Candy resigned last week after four years at the helm to become editor of Elle, published by Hachette Filipacchi.

But her surprise move prompted a statement from Edwards saying: “Lorraine Candy has been on maternity leave for a significant proportion of the last two years and Nina [Ahmad, acting editor] has done a wonderful job looking after the shop.”

Candy, who was angered by the reference to maternity leave, told Press Gazette: “It is a bit sad really. I felt I had a good working relationship with Duncan Edwards and it is a shame he felt that a statement like that should have to mention my maternity leave.

It’s every woman’s right to have maternity leave.”

NatMags has refused to let Candy go and was holding her to her six-month contract this week. She is due to return to Cosmo from her maternity leave in June.

Edwards branded Candy’s response “completely bizarre”. Asked why he felt it necessary to mention the maternity leave, he said: “Well, it’s true. For crying out loud, she wasn’t here for two significant periods of time. We were a little surprised that she decided not to come back but that’s her decision and we wish her all the best.

“Our position is that the magazine has been performing extremely well.

The team that produces Cosmo is brilliant and Nina Ahmad is a fantastic editor. She has been running that magazine and she has done it twice while Lorraine was away, so we are not concerned about how it is going to function in the immediate future without her. We wish Lorraine and Hachette Filipacchi the very best of luck.”

He added: “Obviously, this is a huge job. It’s a job a lot of people want and the net will be cast wide.”

A colleague who saw Candy shortly after a stormy meeting with Edwards said: “The statement was poisonous.

Lorraine didn’t deserve that sort of treatment after what she has done for Cosmo. It goes against everything that the magazine stands for – that young women can ‘have it all’.”

Candy sustained sales at Cosmo in the face of the £10m launch of Glamour, which took the market by storm and knocked it off the top spot.

At Elle she will take over from editor Sarah Bailey, who left to become deputy editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar in New York.

Candy said she hoped to add some humour and improve the editorial credibility of Elle.

“It’s a different beast to Cosmo and aimed at a very different reader. Elle is going to be about great writing, great journalism and human emotion pieces. At the moment, Elle is predominantly known for fashion and there is a chance for it to be known for great writing as well, because young women appreciate great writers.”

“Giving up Cosmo is not something you do lightly. They really sold Elle to me and I thought it was a great chance to work on it,” she added.

Candy began her career on the Cornish Times after leaving school at 16, and then joined the Daily Mirror features desk at 21, before becoming woman’s editor of The Sun and Today and assistant editor of Marie Claire.

She was later appointed editor of B magazine and features editor of The Times.

Candy has two daughters, aged 20 months and 13 weeks. She took four months’ leave for the first child and 14 weeks for the second.

By Ruth Addicott and Philippa Kennedy

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