Liddle planned to quit Today even before march row

Liddle: given BBC ultimatum

Liddle decided to step down this week after BBC bosses issued the ultimatum that he choose between his Guardian column and editing the Radio 4 news programme.

"It was definitely a question of when I should go, not even if," he said.

"I have been talking about if for a while, more and more offers were coming in, and after five years it seemed a good time to go – it’s hard work."

Liddle said an ideal time to go would have been in about five weeks’ time, when he begins working on the pilot of a new BBC political show, co-presented by Fi Glover. He is now considering a number of offers for both TV and radio.

But although happy with his decision to leave, Liddle said there was "a serious point" to be made about the attack launched by The Daily Telegraph after his column appeared in last Wednesday’s Guardian.

"There’s a growing tendency not to dispute what people say, but to try to stop them saying it," said Liddle. "I expect that from the left, but I thought that, having a libertarian bias, the right might be different. But I think for Telegraph editor Charles Moore freedom of speech extends to those with whom he’s in agreement."

Liddle’s Guardian column is normally checked in full by deputy director of news Mark Damazer or Steve Mitchell, the head of radio news.

By Julie Tomlin

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