Sarah Sands is new editor of London Evening Standard

Evgeny Lebedev confirms appointment of Geordie Greig's replacement on Twitter after Boris Johnson backs Sands

Sarah Sands is the new editor of London Evening Standard, the title's proprietor Evgeny Lebedev has confirmed on Twitter.

Lebedev said on Friday he was "proud to announce Sarah Sands is new #Standard Editor. Sure she and her brilliant staff will do a great job in a huge year for the paper".

The appointment came as little surprise – earlier this week MediaGuardian reported that Sands was being lined up for the job – but it follows an extraordinary month following the announcement of Geordie Greig's departure for the Mail on Sunday.

It is understood that Sands, the Evening Standard deputy editor, had said she would resign to join Greig as his deputy on the Sunday tabloid, because Lebedev had wanted to take his time in deciding who would take the top job.

However, Sands changed her mind, partly at the urging of London mayor and friend Boris Johnson, who is understood to have said she would regret not sitting in the editor's chair.

MediaGuardian understands Johnson and a range of London figures consulted by Lebedev mostly came out in support of Sands, leading the proprietor to speed up his own decision to ensure she stayed.

Mayor Johnson was in the Standard's office meeting executives and staff on 7 March, a week after Greig made the surprise announcement that he had been asked by Viscount Rothermere to edit the Mail on Sunday. It is thought he used that opportunity to advance Sands's case, but when asked by reporters earlier on Friday whether he wanted her to get the job, he was non-committal.

However, Sands's friendship with the mayor – dating back to when she looked after his Daily Telegraph column a decade ago when she worked on the paper – had led some journalists at the title to speculate that the newspaper would more firmly embrace the Conservatives under her editorship.

Friends of Sands dispute that thinking, saying that there are no plans to return the newspaper to the strident anti-Livingstone agenda of the era of former editor Veronica Wadley. While she remains a good friend of Johnson, and in particular his wife Marina, Sands does not want the freesheet to lecture its readers.

Her allies point to decisions to commission Sonia Purnell, author of a critical biography of Johnson, and ongoing work with Labour MP and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell.

Nor is it clear how far the Lebedevs have personally warmed to mayor Johnson.

Ian Walker is promoted to senior deputy editor and will edit the paper in Sands's absence. Other promotions involve Charlotte Ross to a deputy editor position, while Amy Iggulden is promoted to assistant editor (news).

Sands has been working at or near the top of Fleet Street for two decades. She was deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph in the late 1990s and first half of the 2000s, before briefly becoming editor of the Sunday Telegraph.

She lasted less than a year at the Sunday title, before being unexpectedly dismissed. Sands later edited the Reader's Digest before becoming the Evening Standard's deputy three years ago.

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Contributor

Dan Sabbagh

The GuardianTramp

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