Emily Maitlis defected to LBC with Jon Sopel after she became ‘frustrated at being ‘ticked-off by BBC bosses over impartiality’
- Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel are quitting BBC to co-present a programme for LBC
- Pair, who join ex BBC veteran Andrew Marr at LBC, will also host a new podcast
- The broadcasters currently earn more than £550,000 combined from the BBC
- But it is thought they will both have secured pay rises from their new employer
The BBC was thrown into disarray yesterday as two of its biggest news stars quit to co-present a show and podcast for radio station LBC.
The former bosses of Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel are understood to have found out just hours before media group Global announced the deal.
The pair are now set to land a huge cash boost. Outgoing North America editor Mr Sopel is thought to have nearly doubled his BBC pay of up to £234,999.
BBC veterans and good friends Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel (pictured) are leaving the corporation to join Global, owners of LBC, where they will front a show and a podcast together
Sopel and Maitlis have been at the BBC for decades and are on big money, £235,000 and £325,000 respectively but it is understood both will have secured a pay rise in their new roles
Newsnight presenter Miss Maitlis is also believed to have landed a hefty pay rise from her salary band of up to £329,999. One source described the deal as an ‘irresistible package’.
Global poached another of the corporation’s top news stars, Andrew Marr, in November.
He quit the BBC after 21 years to front shows on LBC and Classic FM, and is thought to have doubled his pay of up to £339,999 in that move.
Recent departures have sparked talk of a ‘brain drain’ and ‘exodus’ at the corporation’s news division.
BBC insiders last night said they believed Miss Maitlis, 51, who has been at the corporation since 2001, quit in part because she was ‘frustrated’ at being repeatedly ‘ticked-off’ by bosses over impartiality issues.
She was at the centre of a row in 2020 when the BBC decided she had breached impartiality rules in a monologue about Dominic Cummings’s trip to Durham during lockdown.
Pictured: Andrew Marr will be presenting new radio shows on LBC and Classic FM in 2022
In June, she was reprimanded for sharing a Twitter post by Piers Morgan about the pandemic that the corporation said was ‘clearly controversial’.
A senior source said the pair’s defection was ‘extraordinary’ particularly as Mr Sopel was the ‘clear front-runner’ to replace Laura Kuenssberg as political editor.
The role is seen as the most high-profile reporting job in British TV. Mr Sopel, 62, has been at the BBC for nearly 40 years and recently moved back to the UK after leaving his post in the US.
He and Miss Maitlis are good friends and have co-hosted the hugely successful BBC podcast Americast. Details of their new podcast will be announced later in the year.
Global yesterday said the pair will also provide ‘commentary and analysis’ for LBC’s website.
The announcement sent shockwaves through the BBC’s news division.
One source said: ‘You might say it’s not that much fun any more at the BBC at that level and you might say there are lots of things going on outside, particularly at LBC.’
A senior BBC News insider said: ‘I think… Emily Maitlis wants to have a freer hand and I think that Global will give her that.’