SARAH SANDS has quit as editor of the Today programme, as the BBC announces a swathe of cuts in news programmes.
Radio 4 must now find a new editor for its flagship show before Sands leaves in the summer.
The 58-year-old had denied speculation about her departure before Christmas but yesterday emailed staff to say she was moving on after three years in the role. It comes as the BBC plans to focus on digital news and concentrate on fewer stories.
Sands, who is leaving as the corporation also prepares to appoint a new director general and faces threats over the licence fee, tweeted: ‘God bless the BBC.’
She added: ‘I have decided to move on from being editor of the Today programme and propose to leave the BBC in September.
‘It has been a privilege to be part of this remarkable team and I am proud to have championed our intelligent journalism and political independence.’
The long-running programme, presented by Justin Webb, Mishal Husain, Martha Kearney and Nick Robinson, was once guaranteed to be a big draw for politicians. But the likes of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have stayed away from the early-morning show, which has also focused on science and arts in recent years.
Veteran journalist John Humphrys left last year, after 32 years and 5,000 programmes.
In October, Today recorded its lowest listener figures in a decade, drawing an average weekly audience of 6.6million in the third quarter of 2019, down from a high of 7.8million in August 2017.
Last week, former Today presenter Sarah Montague revealed she had won a £400,000 settlement and an apology from the BBC after being treated ‘unequally’ by the BBC for many years.
BBC director of news Fran Unsworth said Sands had ‘brought new ideas and fresh thinking’ to Today. She added: ‘We thank her for all her hard work and wish her well for the future after she leaves the programme this summer.’