Sarah Sands is new editor of BBC Radio 4's Today programme


BBC Radio 4 show Today has hired Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands as the new editor of the flagship news programme.

Ms Sands has been editor of the London newspaper for five years.

In a message to staff on Monday, Evening Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev said: "The London Evening Standard has been a huge success under Sarah's editorship, and she has been a vital part of the team since this company acquired the Standard in 2009.

"Sarah will leave with our very best wishes for her new role."

Ms Sands said: "I am grateful to Evgeny for his support of this newspaper and guarding it against all the head winds of the industry.

"It has been an absolute pleasure to work for him and to be part of a first-rate professional team."

Ms Sands will become the second woman to edit the current affairs programme, following Dame Jenny Abramsky.

Outgoing editor Jamie Angus has been appointed deputy director of the World Service.

Ms Sands will leave the Evening Standard later this year, with the newspaper saying that a new editor would be appointed in due course.

In previous years, BBC bosses have been criticised for not putting enough female presenters and guests on the programme, which launched in 1957.

The current line-up features two female presenters, BBC newsreader Mishal Husain, who joined in 2013, and Sarah Montague alongside John Humphrys, Justin Webb and Nick Robinson.

BBC news and current affairs director James Harding said in an email to staff: "Sarah is a hugely experienced and highly respected journalist.

"For the past five years, she has been the editor of the London Evening Standard and, prior to that, she was the editor of The Sunday Telegraph.

"She will bring her familiar verve and her broad range of interests to the programme and will build on Today's absolute commitment to critical and analytical journalism."

Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams said: "She brings long experience of leadership in journalism and will add a fresh, creative approach to the biggest hitting news programme of them all. I look forward to working with her."

Ms Sands said: "I've felt very close to the Today programme for more than 40 years - every listener does. It is an honour to join the team whose journalism makes such a contribution to British life."