John Witherow

John Witherow (born 20 January 1952) is a British newspaper editor, currently with The Times. A former journalist with Reuters, he joined News International (now News UK) in 1980 and was appointed editor of The Sunday Times in 1994 and editor of The Times in 2013.[citation needed]

John Witherow
Born (1952-01-20) 20 January 1952 (age 69)
Johannesburg, South Africa
EducationBedford School
Alma materCardiff University
University of York

Early life

Witherow was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He migrated to Britain in the mid 1950s before moving to Melbourne, Australia, in the late 1950s.[1] He returned to Britain in the early 1960s, where he attended Bedford School[2] and the University of York.[3]


John Witherow began his news career in 1970 in South west Africa, (Namibia).[4]

Witherow started his career working for the BBC World Service in Namibia.[5]

After university, Witherow was taken on by Reuters news agency in 1977 as a trainee and sent to the Cardiff School of Journalism.[6] He then moved to Reuters, working in London and Madrid before joining The Times as a reporter in 1980.[7]

At The Times, he covered the Iran–Iraq and Falklands wars.[8]

In 1982, Witherow was sent on the aircraft carrier Invincible to cover the Falklands War.[9]

After the fall of Port Stanley in June, 1982, he returned to the UK on a Hercules plane with the SAS. He wrote a book, The Winter War, The Falklands, with Patrick Bishop, a war correspondent for The Observer newspaper.[10]

Witherow moved to The Sunday Times in 1983 under the editorship of Andrew Neil.[11] There he served in several positions, including Defence Editor, Diplomatic Editor, Foreign Editor and Head of News. Witherow was made Acting Editor after the departure of Neil in 1994. He was confirmed in the job the following year.[12]

In early 2013, Witherow was made Editor of The Times in succession to James Harding.[13] The Times' independent directors confirmed the appointment in September of that year[14] and The Times won Newspaper of the Year for 2014 in the Press Awards.[15][16]


Early in Witherow's editorship at The Sunday Times the paper published false claims that Labour politician Michael Foot was a KGB agent. The paper reached a settlement with Foot over the claim.[17]

In 2010, Witherow sought to defend the critic A. A. Gill after he called Clare Balding a "dyke on a bike" in a TV review.[18] Replying to a letter of complaint from Balding, Witherow wrote, "In my view some members of the gay community need to stop regarding themselves as having a special victim status and behave like any other sensible group that is accepted by society. Not having a privileged status means, of course, one must accept occasionally being the butt of jokes. A person's sexuality should not give them a protected status." Balding complained to the Press Complaints Commission and the complaint was upheld.[19]

While working as editor at The Times, Witherow received a letter from leading UK scientists, including Lord Krebs and Lord Stern, which criticized an article for being based on a method that "involves ignoring everything that science has discovered about atmospheric physics since the discovery of greenhouse warming by John Tyndall more than 150 years ago" while adding, "On social media it has, literally, been a laughing stock."[20] The letter went on to argue that this article was not an isolated example as it added to a series of articles that appeared to be designed to undermine climate science and consequent emission reduction programs.[20]

In 2016, as editor of The Times, Witherow failed to cover the Hillsborough stadium disaster inquest verdict on its front page. He later admitted this had been a mistake, however, The Times' football correspondent, Tony Barrett, resigned in protest at the paper's apparent failure.[21]

Personal life

Witherow has three children from his former marriage to Sarah Linton.[22]


  • Witherow, John & Bishop, Patrick (1982). The Winter War: Falklands Conflict. Quartet Books. ISBN 0-7043-3424-0.
  • Witherow, John & Sullivan, Aidan (1991). The Sunday Times War in the Gulf: A Pictorial History. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-06706-2.


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 October 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Toffs at the top | Press Gazette". Archived from the original on 7 October 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  3. Martinson, Jane. "Interview with John Witherow". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  4. "John Witherow | News UK". Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  5. "The editors: John Witherow". Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  6. "Cardiff School of Journalism, Media & Cultural Studies". Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  7. "The editors: John Witherow".
  8. Greenslade, Roy (1 January 2004). Press Gang: How Newspapers Make Profits from Propaganda. Pan. ISBN 9780330393768.
  9. Feron, James (3 July 1982). "British Reporters Tell New Side of Falkland Story". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  10. Witherow, John (1982). The Winter War: Falklands Conflict. Quartet Books.
  11. Summerskill, Ben (27 July 2002). "The Observer profile: Andrew Neil". the Guardian.
  12. "John Witherow :: News Transparency". Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  13. Torin, Douglas (19 January 2013). "John Witherow is appointed new editor of the Times". BBC News. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  14. Greenslade, Roy (27 September 2013). "Witherow and Ivens confirmed as editors of Times and Sunday Times". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  15. "Press Awards". Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  16. "John Witherow". The Times CEO Summit. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  17. Williams, Rhys (23 October 2011). "'Sunday Times' pays Foot damages over KGB claim". The Independent. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  18. Eaton, George (31 July 2010). "Sunday Times under fire over 'dyke' slur against Clare Balding". New Statesman. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  19. Staff (17 September 2010). "Clare Balding complaint over sexuality is upheld". BBC News. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  20. Carrington, Damian (21 April 2016). "Times's climate change coverage 'distorted' and 'poor quality'". the Guardian.
  21. "Times football writer who quit over Hillsborough coverage joins". the Guardian. 3 August 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  22. "The Sunday Times opts for modern and lively - Media news - Media Week". Retrieved 3 November 2015.


  • The International Who's Who 2004. Routledge. 2003.