Sacked Stourton makes his peace with BBC bosses

'Today' presenter who heard about his departure from the IoS thanks listeners for their support
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The Independent Online

The manner of his dismissal may have been shabby, but yesterday Edward Stourton, the sacked presenter of Radio 4's flagship Today programme, made his peace with his BBC bosses with grace and impeccable manners, and thanked listeners for their support.

"I'd like to say a thank you, a huge one in fact, bursting with gratitude and emotion, to those of you who got in touch with me and the programme to support me when I learned I was leaving Today," he told listeners yesterday. "Some of the things you said were quite humbling and it made a real difference."

Stourton learned he was being sacked only when The Independent on Sunday rang him a fortnight ago to ask if the rumours that he was leaving were true, and his conciliatory manner yesterday was in marked contrast to the anger he expressed then.

He had described the news that he was to lose his job after 10 years to make way for the BBC's North America editor, Justin Webb, as "devastating". "You have the dubious distinction of being the person who alerted me to the fact that I have been sacked," he said at the time. "I am devastated. There isn't anything else I can say. I wasn't expecting this. It has come out of the blue.

"I think the reason is very clear. They want Justin to do my job. Specifically, Mark Damazer [controller of Radio 4] wants Justin to do it. I've been doing the job for 10 years, so there is no question that I am able to [do it]. Clearly, they don't rate me or they would not have sacked me."

Yesterday, it seemed he had patched things up with the BBC . "I'm happy to say that after a difficult few days the BBC and I have agreed I'll continue broadcasting on Radio 4, which I love doing," he told listeners. "And I will still be appearing on this programme from time to time. So, I hope I can now go back to covering stories, rather than being one, which I have to say I didn't enjoy one little bit."

The BBC was inundated with complaints when it confirmed that Stourton was being fired, and more than 80 MPs signed an Early Day Motion calling for him to be reinstated.

Nicknamed "Posh Ed", Stourton, 51, began his career at ITN before moving to the BBC, where he had a stint presenting the One O'Clock News before moving to Today. He had also criticised the BBC for releasing a statement saying he would be "working on other projects". "There are no other projects," he said. The editor of Today, Ceri Thomas, said earlier this month that he had apologised to Stourton for the way the announcement of his leaving had been handled.

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