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Wade set to make her mark as Sun's first female editor

LONDON - Staff at News International's two tabloid newspapers are expecting to see a string of changes following the appointment of Rebekah Wade as the first female editor of The Sun.

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Wade's appointment was revealed yesterday as David Yelland announced he was stepping down to pursue a business course in the United States. The former business journalist is then set to take up an as-yet-unspecified management role at News Corporation.

In the statement announcing his departure, Rupert Murdoch heaped praise on him. "David has had five fabulously successful years in the chair at The Sun. He bows out with an increasing circulation and with even greater distance between The Sun and its competition."

Wade, who is married to the New Labour-supporting former 'EastEnders' actor Ross Kemp, has been editor of the News of the World since 2000 and previously worked with Yelland on The Sun before moving across to the Sunday tabloid.

There has been no word on who might replace Wade at the News of the World, although her deputy Andy Coulson and Yelland's deputy Fergus Shanahan are thought to both be in the running.

She is best known during her two years on the UK's biggest-selling Sunday newspaper for the controversial "naming and shaming" of paedophiles campaign, which followed the abduction and murder of Sarah Payne.

The campaign whipped up a frenzy of fear and also backed a campaign for the introduction of law that would allow local residents to know the whereabouts of known paedophiles.

Her other major story successes on the paper have been the "fake sheikh" story, which exposed Sophie Wessex using her royal connections to win PR business and led to her withdrawing from business; Prince Harry's drug taking; and TV host Angus Deayton's hooker and drugs shame, which eventually cost him his job.

Aside from being well connected in the world of showbiz from her early days of celebrity journalism, she is also well liked by New Labour. Both her and Kemp are New Labour supporters and he is thought to harbour a desire to be a Labour MP.

However, despite being close to New Labour it is thought that The Sun, which under Yelland became very friendly with No 10, will distance itself from the government.

Unlike The Sun, which backed Cherie Blair during Cheriegate, the News of the World was far less supportive, earning Wade the ire of Alastair Campbell, Downing Street's director of communications.

Other changes being tipped are the possible dumping of Page 3, which Wade challenged while she was deputy editor. However, as editor it might be harder to remove than expected as Wade is as aware of what makes papers sell as the next tabloid journalist.

And her time at the News of the World has not exactly been flesh free. The paper has pushed sexy celeb calendars and published plenty of raunchy pictures under Wade.

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