Paul Dacre is stepping down as editor of the Daily Mail by November this year, when he turns 70, having been in charge of the newspaper for 26 years.
Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere has described Dacre as the “greatest Fleet Street editor of his generation” in a message to staff.
Dacre will become chairman and editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Metro newspapers and Mail Online website, from 1 October this year.
The move will see him step back from day-to-day editorial responsibilities.
Rothermere said Dacre would also be “advising me and taking on other broader responsibilities in the company at a time of profound upheaval in the media landscape”.
According to DMGT, parent company of the Daily Mail, Dacre’s new appointment is being announced now “to facilitate handover to the new editor of the Daily Mail, who will be named in due course”.
Dare will also step down as a board director of DMGT before the end of the financial year, the company said.
Rothermere, who is chairman of DMGT, said: “I would like to put on record my and DMGT’s gratitude to Paul Dacre for his brilliant stewardship of the Mail and other titles within the Group over three decades.
“Paul is, quite simply, the greatest Fleet Street Editor of his generation not only for his huge circulation successes on both the Mail and Standard but also for the sheer power of his many campaigns, investigations and crusades that have held power to account, given a voice to the voiceless and often set the political agenda through six prime ministerships.
“He has done this while working tirelessly to defend press freedom to the benefit of our whole industry.”
In a statement to staff, Dacre thanked Rothermere for giving him “freedom to edit without interference” and the “backing to assemble Fleet Street’s greatest team of journalists”.
He also thanked his team for “countless successful campaigns” and for having “spearheaded the battle for freedom of expression”.
His statement in full is as follows:
“After 28 years as an editor – 26 of them at the Mail – I have decided to step back from the responsibilities of day-to-day editing by my 70th birthday in November in order to take on broader challenges within the company as chairman and editor-in-chief of Associated [Newspapers].
“It’s a joy to work for Lord Rothermere. He has given me two things that to an editor are worth more than all the riches of Araby: the freedom to edit without interference and the backing to assemble Fleet Street’s greatest team of journalists.
“It’s this extraordinary team’s tireless efforts that increased the Mail’s circulation by nearly a million copies in a declining market and made Saturday’s Mail Britain’s biggest-selling paper.
“It’s this team that launched the Scottish and Irish Daily Mails, Metro, which is now the top circulation UK weekday paper, and Mail Online which, under Martin Clarke, has become the world’s number one English-language newspaper website. During these years, thousands of jobs in our industry were created.
“It’s this team who have been behind our countless successful campaigns. Whether it has been justice for Stephen Lawrence and the Omagh bomb victims, plastic in supermarkets and in the seas, Dignity for the Elderly, thwarting Labour’s plans for super casinos, or putting sepsis and prostate cancer on the map, we have shown that newspapers make a difference.
“Without the Mail, Gary Mckinnon, Shaker Aamer and Marine A would probably be in jail and Afghan British Army translators, whose lives are now at risk, would not have the chance to live here.
“And finally, it’s this team that’s spearheaded the battle for freedom of expression against those who seek to impose statutory regulation of the press. This battle is on-going and I plan to continue playing as great a part in it as ever.
“In the meantime, my heartfelt gratitude to everyone – journalists, management, circulation reps and printers – who have made Associated one of the most successful newspaper groups in the world.
“It has been a privilege to work with you all and I look forward to continuing to do so in my new role in which I will endeavour to ensure that our company remains at the absolute forefront of a rapidly changing industry.”