Boris Johnson names senior BBC journalist as communications chief


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Indy Politics

A senior BBC political journalist has been appointed as London Mayor Boris Johnson's communications chief.

Will Walden, the corporation's Westminster news editor, will bring "drive, originality and flair" to the post, Mr Johnson said.

Mr Walden replaces Guto Harri, another ex-BBC man, who quit to take up a post with News International after Mr Johnson was re-elected earlier this month.

Mr Johnson said: "I'm delighted that Will Walden will be joining my team at City Hall.

"He will bring drive, originality and flair to the post of director of communications.

"It is ever more vital that politicians communicate clearly and honestly with voters about how we are spending their money and how we plan to improve the city.

"I believe Will has exactly the right skills to help us engage with Londoners. He has enormous experience of politics and a great track record at the BBC. I am thrilled to welcome him on board."

Mr Walden began his career as a reporter in local newspapers before moving to commercial radio and has worked extensively as a reporter, producer and editor for the BBC, ITN, GMTV and Granada.

For the last five years he has directed the BBC's day-to-day coverage of political news.

Mr Walden, who will start the £127,784-a-year job in July, said: "After 12 fantastic years at the BBC, I'm delighted to be joining Boris Johnson and his team at what is an incredible time for London and for Londoners.

"A Diamond Jubilee and an Olympic Games represent among the very best that London has to offer.

"But I know that the Mayor is determined it doesn't end there. He has set out a compelling vision for London's future and it is a privilege to be asked to help shape that vision."

The announcement comes just days after Mr Johnson launched an outspoken attack on the corporation.

He said the next boss of the "statist, corporatist, defeatist" broadcaster must be a Tory.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph earlier this month, he said the guarantee of funding from the licence fee left BBC staff with "an innocent belief that everything in life should be 'free"'.

He said: "No wonder - and I speak as one who has just fought a campaign in which I sometimes felt that my chief opponent was the local BBC news - the prevailing view of Beeb newsrooms is, with honourable exceptions, statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, Europhile and, above all, overwhelmingly biased to the Left."