LONDON - Veronica Wadley, ex-editor of the London Evening Standard, has criticised its new owner, Russian billionaire and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev, for the paper's "Pravda-style" relaunch.
Wadley, who was speaking to MediaGuardian, is furious at the Standard's 'Sorry' ad campaign, which she thought "humiliated" the paper's staff and insulted its readers.
Wadley said: "The new management seems to think that a paper should be edited by self-serving market research -- and the Pravda-style promise of good news is an insult to the intelligence of its readers."
The Standard's daring print ad campaign, created by McCann-Erickson, apologised to Londoners for losing touch, taking them for granted, and being negative, complacent and predictable.
All of the executions began with the word "sorry".
Wadley told MediaGuardian: "London is laughing at this ludicrous campaign. Saying 'sorry' for the past smacks of a Soviet courtroom 'confession'.
"'Sorry' has all the hallmarks of a KGB-style smear campaign. It denigrates the judgement of 500,000 loyal readers."
The Standard launched the campaign in response to market research, commissioned by the newspaper's new editor, Geordie Greig, who believed Londoners thought the paper was too negative.
The paper relaunches today as the London Evening Standard with a new design and masthead and a redesigned website, including new blogs and a Twitter feed.
To mark the event, 650,000 copies will be given away free today.
Greig said: "London is the best city and we intend to celebrate it.
"We want to reconnect with the greatest city in the world and we are prepared to fight for what is best for London and Londoners.
"We are going to be more upbeat, more representative and more positive."
A 'promise' ad campaign telling readers what they can expect from the new Standard launches today, replacing the 'sorry' campaign.