Sambrook removed as head of BBC News

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The Independent Online

The director of BBC News, Richard Sambrook - who was at the centre of the Hutton inquiry into the death of government scientist David Kelly - was moved from his post yesterday, as the new director general Mark Thompson continued his overhaul of the corporation.

The director of BBC News, Richard Sambrook - who was at the centre of the Hutton inquiry into the death of government scientist David Kelly - was moved from his post yesterday, as the new director general Mark Thompson continued his overhaul of the corporation.

Mr Sambrook, 48, who gave lengthy evidence to Lord Hutton and was cleared of any wrongdoing by a BBC internal inquiry, will take up a new role as head of the World Service and the global news division.

The news chief, who had been looking to move, said yesterday that he was "genuinely very happy" with his new job. But the sideways move means that, six months after Lord Hutton published his sweeping criticisms of the corporation's journalistic standards, most of the BBC figures at the centre of the row are no longer in post.

Gavyn Davies, the chairman, Greg Dyke, the chief executive, and Andrew Gilligan, a reporter, have all resigned from the BBC. The re-shuffle will see Helen Boaden, the controller of Radio 4, on which station Mr Gilligan's controversial report was broadcast, promoted to head of news.

For two consecutive years Ms Boaden has led Radio 4 to the station of the year crown in the prestigious Sony awards. A former presenter for Woman's Hour, she is also an award-winning radio journalist.

The changes should be seen in the context of a new era at the BBC under Mr Thompson and the new chairman, Michael Grade. Mr Thompson has already streamlined his executive committee and demanded greater efficiency from programme-makers.

Rupert Gavin, head of the corporation's commercial arm BBC Worldwide, resigned on Friday after Mr Thompson ordered a review into whether the venture should be sold or broken up. Another review is looking at the programming record of the flagship channel BBC1.

One BBC source said yesterday: "There will be a lot more changes at the BBC."

Colleagues of Mr Sambrook said he had never been quite the same after Hutton's damning findings prompted him to offer his resignation. One said: "He no longer felt on the front foot in his job."

Mr Sambrook, who has been head of news for four years, said yesterday that he had been looking for a new challenge for some time. He dismissed suggestions that he had been demoted as "daft".

He inherits the role formerly occupied by the new BBC deputy director general Mark Byford. Although the timing of yesterday's announcement was a surprise, many in BBC news had predicted that Mr Sambrook would switch to this role.

One of his immediate challenges will be to address the fall in World Service audience in countries such as Russia and India, as listeners turn away from short wave radio. Ms Boaden will move to news in September. "It's a privilege to be asked to lead the team who will ensure that BBC News remains robust, original, independent and fair," she said.

She has been at the BBC for 21 years and is seen as a strong leader and good team-builder. But one journalist said: "She is a radio person through and through. Some television journalists might see her as an unknown quantity."

Nigel Chapman was confirmed as director of the World Service and will report to Mr Sambrook. Graham Ellis, who is head of production at Radio 4, will be among the favourites to become the station's new controller, although Mr Thompson may have his eye on an outside candidate.

Journalist with a worldwide view

Appointed director of BBC News in 2001, Richard Sambrook joined the BBC in 1980 as a sub-editor in the radio newsroom.

Sambrook, 48, who grew up in Kent, graduated in English from Reading University then did a masters in politics at Birkbeck College, University of London.

He was a senior producer and deputy editor of the Nine O'Clock News , who worked on location in the Far East, Middle East, Europe, Russia and the United States and helped produce coverage for three general elections. He produced the BBC coverage of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and co-ordinated the coverage of the war in Bosnia.

In 1992, Sambrook was appointed News Editor, BBC Newsgathering - the department that brings in coverage from around the world for all BBC radio and television news and daily current affairs programmes.

In 1996 he was appointed Head of Newsgathering and led the expansion of the BBC's overseas news operation, an experience that will help him in his new role.

Radio controller on winning streak

After starting her journalistic career in 1979 on the New York radio station WBAI, Helen Boaden joined BBC Radio Leeds in 1983. She became a reporter and then editor of Radio 4's current affairs programme File on 4 . She has presented Woman's Hour and produced and presented documentaries for Radio 4.

In a distinguished reporting career, she won the coveted Sony award for Best Current Affairs Programme for her report on Aids in Africa. Boaden was also named Radio Industrial Journalist of the Year by the Industrial Society in 1990 for her investigation into safety standards in the oil industry.

In 1997 she became BBC head of business programmes. A year later she was made head of current affairs. She was appointed controller of Radio 4 in March 2000 and has led the network to two consecutive Sony station of the year awards.

Asked recently what she was looking for to take the network forward, Boaden answered: "Revelatory journalism."

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