Ed Stourton’s unceremonious sacking as a Today presenter has been described by one Today programme colleague as ‘crass’and drawn comparisons with the suspension of Jonathan Ross.
Stourton was told by Independent on Sunday journalist Cole Moreton that he was to be replaced on Today by Justin Webb – only to have it then confirmed by his editor Ceri Thomas.
He said: “Cole has the distinction of telling me I was about to lose my job.
“I rang my boss and was told that it was true. I have enjoyed my 10 years there, which is why I feel so shattered. Not many things make you cheerful about getting up at three o’clock in the morning, but that show is one of them.”
Insult was then added to injury when the BBC issued a statement saying that he was leaving to pursue ‘other projects”. This was a lie, said Stourton, there are no other projects that he knows about.
He said: “I did think it was wrong of them to say that I was leaving to pursue other projects, which is simply not true. I am leaving because they’ve removed me and there are no other projects.”
For some reason journalists are seldom put on “gardening leave” – so Stourton now faces the indignity of working on at Today until September.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “Some of my family have pointed out the contrast between what happened to Jonathan Ross over his remarks [to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs] and what happened to me for 10 years’ unblemished service to the BBC. He was suspended. I was sacked.”
While the FT reports him saying: ““It’s not only going to be awkward with colleagues but it’s going to difficult for me to maintain my authority knowing those running the programme have declared a vote of no confidence in you.”
A un-named fellow presenter is reported in today’s Daily Mail has saying: “Of course it was mishandled, there’s no mistake about that.
“It was crass, the way it was done. When a guy discovers he is being sacked when a reporter tells him he has seen a bit in a column, that’s hardly classic management really.”
Peter McKay writing in the Mail Today reckon’s Stourton has been given the push for committing the sins of being “posh” (having gone to public school) and English.
He notes: “He can’t expect protests from his colleagues, although they have all sympathised with him. Broadcasters are like spared wildebeest in the Serengeti. They fatalistically resume grazing after one of their number is taken down.”