Crick defects from BBC to Channel 4

Michael Crick has become the latest high-profile BBC News journalist to quit the corporation after the Newsnight political editor announced his defection to Channel 4.

Crick, famed for thrusting his microphone in front of reluctant politicians and a Newsnight veteran of 19 years, is to become the new political correspondent at Channel 4 News.

His departure follows that of fellow BBC political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg, a rising star at the corporation, who has signed up to become Business Editor at rival ITV News.

In May, Channel 4 News poached Matt Frei, anchor of the BBC World News America to be its Washington correspondent and Jackie Long, another Newsnight reporter, to become social affairs editor.

Jay Hunt, Channel 4's chief creative officer, has been seeking to make eye-catching signings to increase the profile of the station's news and current affairs programmes. Crick and Frei are also expected to front Dispatches investigations for the channel.

BBC sources said the departures should be seen in the context of the Delivering Quality First review which will result in wide-ranging cost-savings to meet the reduced licence fee, including on-screen salaries. The number of staff Newsnight correspondents may be reduced.

Crick, a founding member of the Channel 4 News team from its 1982 launch, will fill the role vacated by Cathy Newman, who is becoming one of the regular presenters of Channel 4 News alongside Jon Snow and Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

He will work alongside the programme's political editor, Gary Gibbon, on the ITN-produced programme.

Crick said: "Channel 4 News has a reputation for an in-depth, analytical and cheeky approach to politics, and I look forward to delivering exactly that."

Jim Gray, Channel 4 News editor, praised Crick's "remarkable track record of finding things out that people don't want unearthed." He added: "He is a formidable investigative journalist."

Channel 4 News is also seeking to appoint the first weather presenter in its 29 year history, to explain "increasingly volatile weather patterns", at a time when the BBC has dropped a number of popular presenters.

Peter Rippon Newsnight Editor, said: "It is a big loss for us as Michael is a brilliant journalist with a long list of scoops and stories that have helped make Newsnight what it is today. We will miss his fearlessness and his ability to prick pomposity wherever it lurks."

David Grossman, the Newsnight political correspondent, could replace Crick. A BBC spokesman said: "Clearly the political agenda is central to Newsnight, Michael Crick has only just told us he is moving on, we will now consider how best to fill the gap he leaves."