BBC's director of news to quit amid row over proposed appointment of Jess Brammar

BBC’s director of news to quit amid row over proposed appointment of Jess Brammar

Fran Unsworth, the BBC’s director of news, is to quit the corporation amid worsening relations with the Government, it was reported on Monday night.

Unsworth has been embroiled in an internal row over the proposed appointment of Jess Brammar in the newly-created role of executive news editor.

Sir Robbie Gibb, the former Downing Street communications director under Theresa May, is said to have texted Unsworth to voice concerns about the appointment and what it would say about the BBC’s impartiality. Brammar has publicly criticised the Government on social media in her previous role at the Huffington Post.

Unsworth, 63, is to leave in January. 

She said: “After more than 40 years with the BBC, I have decided that the time is right for me to hand on the job of leading the world’s best news organisation.

“I have had a ringside seat at some momentous events, including the Falklands War, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, wars in the Middle East, the dea-th of Princess Diana, 9/11 and countless general elections. It has been a great privilege.

“The jobs I’ve done have not always been easy. Undoubtedly, some were more fun than others. But I am proud to have done all of them – and to work for an organisation which has such a vital and precious role in the UK and around the world. The BBC is free of commercial and proprietorial pressure. Our bosses are the audiences we serve. I am honoured to have been be part of it.

“I leave BBC News in the hands of an incredibly strong team which is committed to remaining at the forefront of the world’s journalism. Through them, the BBC will be as relevant as it has been for the last 100 years. I am proud to have served BBC News and our audiences.”

A lifelong BBC employee, she took charge of the corporation’s news and current affairs division in 2018 and also sits on the executive board, with a salary of £342,000.

She was ultimately responsible for one of the costliest errors of BBC News judgment: the decision to film a police raid on the home of Sir Cliff Richard. The BBC was forced to pay out £2 million after the star won his privacy case.

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