A presenter on BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme found out from a newspaper reporter that he had been sacked, it emerged today.
Ed Stourton said he was rung up by a journalist on Thursday and asked whether he was being fired. A subsequent call to his editor confirmed the news.
The BBC eventually announced yesterday that the presenter was being replaced by Justin Webb, the corporation’s North America editor, next October. Stourton was “leaving to concentrate on other BBC projects”, the broadcaster said.
But the 51-year-old, who has presented Today since January 1999, told The Guardian: “It was a complete surprise to me. I found out via a phone call from a journalist, yesterday while I was doing a literary lunch at Haringey.
“I rang up my boss and said, ‘Is this true?’ and he said ‘Yes it is’.”
Asked how he felt, he said: “I’m very sad … well, more than that really.”
Mark Damazer, controller of Radio 4, said in a statement: “Ed Stourton will continue to grace Radio 4 after he leaves Today. He is a distinguished journalist with a terrific track record in a host of Radio 4 programmes.”
Editor of the Today programme Ceri Thomas, said: “Justin has always excelled on radio and has become a truly formidable North America editor for the BBC. The chance to bring his foreign affairs expertise home to the programme was too good to miss.”
Stourton was a founder member of Channel 4 News in 1982.
He first joined the BBC in 1988 as Paris correspondent, becoming a newsreader in 1993 before joining Today.