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January 17, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 8:49am

Lionel Barber says FT staff are ‘family’ in speech on last day as editor

By Freddy Mayhew

Addressing a packed newsroom for the last time as editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber told staff: “This is family.”

Barber made his farewell speech yesterday afternoon before handing editorial control to Roula Khalaf, his former deputy.

“In the end, my friends we are all in this together,” said Barber.

“Reporters and editors, the coders, the data people and the writers, editorial and business side… this is family.”

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The 64-year-old, who has worked for the paper for 34 years and edited it for 14 of those, was “banged out” – where journalists bang their desks to bid farewell to a parting colleague – as per Fleet Street custom.

He was also given a mocked-up front page to mark his time at the newspaper, another UK press tradition, complete with pun headline: “Demon Barber of Fleet Street cuts and runs.”

Before departing, Barber interviewed German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Last year he scored a rare sit-down chat with Russian president Vladimir Putin, which he told Press Gazette had been four years in the making.

Under his editorship the FT passed 1m paying subscribers and twice won News Provider of the Year at the British Journalism Awards, the first news title to have done so in the awards’ eight-year history, including in 2019.

Barber tweeted last night: “Thanks for the wonderful memories.”

Today marked Khalaf’s first as FT editor. According to one FT journalist, she described Barber as a “rockstar” as she bid him farewell yesterday.

Tweeting about the “regime change” at the paper, she said: “Looking so much forward to working with our terrific journalists.”

Lionel Barber’s final front page as FT editor:

Picture: FT

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