UK Politics

BBC's Craig Oliver replacing Andy Coulson at No 10

Craig Oliver Image copyright bbc
Image caption Mr Oliver said it was an opportunity he could not turn down

The prime minister has chosen a senior executive at BBC News to replace Andy Coulson as Director of Government Communications.

Craig Oliver, controller of English at BBC Global news, and a former editor of the BBC News at Six and Ten will take up the post shortly.

His job will be to lead efforts to sell David Cameron, the Coalition and the Conservative Party to the country.

Mr Oliver, 41, was approached late last week by Andy Coulson.

Mr Coulson resigned from the post last month after pressure over the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said Mr Oliver had no previous political involvement but had been approached by Mr Coulson and had met the prime minister over the weekend. He will receive a salary of £140,000.

Mr Cameron said he was "very pleased" at the appointment: "Craig has formidable experience as a broadcast journalist. He will do an excellent job in explaining and communicating the government's programme."

Mr Oliver said: "I'm delighted and privileged to be joining David Cameron and his team at such an exciting and challenging time.

"My background is broadcasting, but I know that newspapers play a crucial role and I look forward to talking with them.

"It's difficult to leave the BBC after working here for five fascinating years - but this is an opportunity I can't turn down."

In an email to BBC staff, he said he was sad to be leaving the corporation. He added: "I was approached about the role over the weekend, the first time I had been considered for it, and came to the conclusion that it will be an exciting and challenging opportunity."

BBC director of global news, Peter Horrocks praised Mr Oliver but added: "Given the crucial editorial independence of the BBC, Craig and I have agreed that he should end his duties at the BBC immediately."

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Media captionBBC Political Nick Robinson: "He was dumb struck after Andy Coulson contacted him"

Mr Coulson, who quit as Downing Street's director of communications in January, was editor of the News of the World in 2007 when its royal editor Clive Goodman was jailed for conspiracy to access phone messages.

Mr Coulson resigned but has denied any knowledge of Goodman's activities. A Press Complaints Commission investigation in May 2007 found no evidence that Mr Coulson or anyone else at the paper had been aware of Goodman's activities.

That month he became Mr Cameron's director of communications.

But in recent months his position as Mr Cameron's communications chief came under pressure amid renewed newspaper investigations into the scale of phone hacking at the Sunday tabloid.

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