Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

MPs demand Stourton reinstatement

Edward Stourton
Stourton is said to be "very sad" to be leaving Radio 4's flagship programme

A cross-party group of MPs is calling for broadcaster Edward Stourton to be reinstated as a presenter on Radio 4's flagship Today programme.

Labour's Keith Vaz - chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee - is leading the motion, which also asks the BBC Trust to investigate his removal.

Stourton has said he was not aware of the situation until a journalist rang him for a comment last week.

He is due to continue presenting Today until Justin Webb replaces him in 2009.

'Intellectual rigour'

The BBC made its announcement last Friday, saying that Stourton was leaving "to work on other projects".

But the presenter said he had only learned of his planned departure a day earlier.

"I picked up a message on my phone on Thursday asking me about the rumours that I was about to be sacked, which was the first I had heard of it," he told the Telegraph newspaper.

He also contradicted the BBC's statement, saying he had "no other projects" in the pipeline.

The Commons motion was signed by Labour MPs Harry Cohen and Keith Vaz, Conservatives Peter Luff and Hugo Swire, and Liberal Democrats David Howarth and Bob Russell.

They said they "deplore the sacking" of the broadcaster, and called on Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust, to investigate "how his sacking came to be notified to him by a journalist".

They added that "Mr Stourton commands huge respect for the undoubted impartiality and intellectual rigour he brings to the Today programme".

A BBC spokeswoman said: "Presenter line-ups change and evolve over time. Ed is still very much part of the BBC and we hope will be part of the news and current affairs family for many years to come.

"Obviously speculation is never the way we wish anything to be made public and we apologised to him for that at the time."

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