THE FORMER editor of the Independent, Andrew Marr, is to take over from Robin Oakley as the BBC's political editor, it was announced yesterday.
The news that Mr Oakley, 58, is to take early retirement, comes as the BBC begins to feel the effects of the shake-up instituted by the new director-general, Greg Dyke.
Mr Oakley was due to stay on until next year and admitted yesterday he would have liked to have covered the next election. But he conceded the logic of the change. He will hand over the reins to his 40-year-old successor in July, when Parliament breaks up.
"Because I was due to retire next August I had been talking to the BBC for a while about my time of leaving, particularly because of uncertainty about the date of the next general election," Mr Oakley said.
Mr Marr began his journalistic career with the Scotsman and has spent most of his career at Westminster. He said he was delighted to have been asked to take over. "This is such a wonderful job and such a wonderful time to be doing it. I think we're going to go through an amazing few years in politics and to be in that position will be fabulous."
He starts work at the BBC tomorrow "with no little trepidation" at the prospect of replacing Mr Oakley.
Announcing the change, Tony Hall, director of BBC News, paid tribute to the outgoing man. "Robin has done a tremendous job for the BBC since he became political editor in 1992, chronicling with immense skill and wisdom the political drama of the 1990s."
Mr Oakley is to be kept on by the BBC and will present Radio 4's The Week in Westminster during the party conference season.