BBC newsreader is the latest presenter to defect to al-Jazeera

The BBC newscaster Darren Jordon, yesterday became the latest high profile presenter to join the soon-to-be-launched Al Jazeera International.

Jordon, who has regularly presented the BBC's Six O'Clock News and Ten O'Clock News bulletins, will leave after eight years at the end of the month.

He said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time at the BBC but was ready for a "new challenge".

"I've learnt an awful lot and worked with some exceptionally talented individuals," he said. "The move, however, comes at the right time for me and I look forward to the fresh challenges that it will, no doubt, present."

Of his appointment, he added: "I think the world will benefit from a news channel like Al Jazeera International, which will become the much-needed channel of reference for Middle Eastern events ... We will set the news agenda rather than following."

Peter Horrocks, the BBC's head of television news, said that Jordon was "an extremely accomplished news presenter - always straightforward in his reporting, and rigorous but fair in his questioning".

Jordon was educated in the West Indies and at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He spent eight years in the Jamaican army before retiring his commission as a captain in 1986.

He originally joined BBC Sport as a broadcast journalist in 1998, following a three-year stint as a broadcaster in South Africa. He made the move to news in 1999, as a presenter on BBC News 24.

He also presented on BBC World before his appointment as special reporter for the BBC's One O'Clock News. He presented on BBC Breakfast and became a familiar face to audiences.

Al Jazeera International announced that Jordon would present the news from the channel's headquarters in Qatar, which will be supported by broadcast centres in Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington DC.

Steve Clark, director of news at al-Jazeera, said: "Darren is one of the finest TV presenters around. His appointment reflects our commitment to bring viewers the highest standards."

Jordon is the latest name to sign up for the Arab station. Sir David Frost, the former BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar and ITN's Shiulie Ghosh have also been recruited.

Al-Jazeera began broadcasting in 1996, with the support of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and it now operates more than 30 news bureaux around the world.

The channel says it offers its audiences in the Arab world "much-needed freedom of thought, independence and room for debate".

But the launch of al-Jazeera London has been beset by technical problems. The channel is operating as a fully-functioning newsroom but is not on air.

A source at the channel said that it was a "huge endeavour" as it would be the first newsroom to run on high definition television, and that the four newsrooms across the world would be linked up.

Another source said that the launch was now expected at the end of the year.

The big name recruits

Rageh Omaar

Former BBC correspondent. Reported on the pulling down of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad. Will present the daily programme, Witness.

Mark Seddon

Reported for the BBC from Iraq, North Korea and China, and for Sky from Yemen. Al-Jazeera's UN correspondent in New York.

Shiulie Ghosh

Covered the Asian Tsunami and the conflict in Kosovo for ITV. Al-Jazeera's news anchor based in Qatar.

Sir David Frost

The only person to interview the last seven US presidents and six British prime ministers. Based in London with his own show, Frost Over the World.

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