Sarah Sands is standing down as editor of the Today programme after three years.
Her decision comes as the BBC announces a swathe of cuts in its news programmes.
A source has confirmed that Sands, the second woman to edit the current affairs programme, will be leaving the flagship BBC Radio 4 show.
Sands, the former editor of the Evening Standard, was appointed in January 2017 but has faced criticism for ‘dumbing down’ the show.
And she was even criticised by one of the show’s former editors, Roger Mosey, for making the programme more ‘magazine, than the news section’.
In an email to staff she said she was ‘never going to be a lifer’ but added that she was ‘proud’ of what the programme had achieved under ‘constant pressure’.
Friends of Sarah Sands said today that she had decided to step down over the BBC job cuts.
‘She could not bear working through years of job losses so decided to give up hers first,’ one said.
Sarah Sands who is standing down as editor of the Today programme after three years
Sands announced her decision to leave on Twitter this morning saying it had been a ‘privilege’ to be part of a ‘remarkable team’
Announcing her decision to leave, Sands said on Twitter: ‘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. God bless the BBC.’
And in an email to staff, seen by The Guardian, she said: ‘I have decided that September is a good time to move on and pass this job to someone else. I loved Radio 4 as a listener, I loved it even more as a member of the team.
‘But I come from a different world and I was never going to be a lifer. I am so proud of what we have achieved, championing intelligent broadcasting and political independence, under constant pressure.
‘I have witnessed not only extraordinary professionalism and quick-witted determination here but also a heart-warming consideration towards one another.
‘The Today programme is a beacon of news journalism. It was, is, will always be, the most precious programme at the BBC.’
Sands must serve a notice period of six months. It is not known where she will be moving.
The Today programme’s veteran journalist John Humphrys left last year, after 32 years and 5,000 programmes.
Days after his resignation he accused the ‘Kremlin’-style corporation of being out of touch and slammed it ‘institutional liberal bias’.
He said its bosses ‘badly failed’ to read the nation’s mood on Europe and ‘simply could not grasp’ why anyone voted Leave.
Top politicians were once guaranteed to go on the programme, but the likes of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have stayed away.
And Downing Street is currently boycotting the show amid ongoing rows over the Corporation’s Election coverage and questions over the future of the licence fee.
It was recently revealed that former Today programme presenter Sarah Montague won a £400,000 settlement and an apology from the BBC after being treated ‘unequally’ by the BBC for many years.
She said the deal came after a ‘long period of stressful negotiations’ which was triggered after discovering a disparity in her pay and conditions.
BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall has said broadcasters have to be careful about contributing to a toxic discourse with political journalism aimed at trying to ‘catch out’ politicians.
The programme is presented by Justin Webb, Mishal Husain, Martha Kearney and Nick Robinson.
Ms Sands was pipped to take over outgoing BBC Director-General Lord Tony Hall who announced his resignation earlier this month – and afterwards criticised the corporation for contributing to a toxic discourse with political journalism aimed at trying to ‘catch out’ politicians.
Fran Unsworth, director of news, spoke at BBC’s Broadcasting House in London today
This graphic was posted on a screen during the BBC News cuts announcement in London yesterday. It shows the split between ‘outlets’, ‘story teams’, ‘specialist production teams’ and ‘commissioning points’
The news comes after it was announced yesterday that high profile and highly paid BBC presenters are facing the axe after a cull of 450 jobs in the corporation’s news department was unveiled yesterday.
Staff were left reeling at the scale of the cutbacks, which will see around one in 13 roles go and are part of an £80million savings programme.
Newsnight, BBC2’s flagship current affairs show, is among the programmes bearing the brunt of the cuts, along with popular radio station Radio 5 Live and the World Service, which will lose 50 roles.
As a result, the BBC, which has about 6,000 news staff, will cover fewer stories and plough more money into its online output, saying it was currently ‘spending too much’ on ‘traditional linear broadcasting’.
A well-placed BBC source said it was not just rank-and-file staff that faced losing their jobs, but potentially well-known on-air presenters.
Many have been under scrutiny since the BBC’s pay list revealed that many earn huge six-figure salaries.
The source said: ‘No one is immune from the cuts, not even the presenters. Big names are not protected.’
Last night, unions warned of an ‘existential threat’ to the BBC and insiders hinted that compulsory redundancies could lead to potential strike action.
There was also fury that the corporation was slashing the number of journalists while continuing to pay a fortune to sports and entertainment stars, such as Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker, who is on around £1.75million per year.