Europe

BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg tipped to be replaced by staunch ‘republican’ Amol Rajan

Andrew Marr discusses future of the BBC with Lord Tony Hall

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Amol Rajan’s unique journalistic style has “dazzled” BBC bosses, making him a potential successor for powerful Laura Kuenssberg, the current political editor who is thought to be stepping down at the turn of the year.

Mr Rajan, 38, has been described by BBC colleagues as having “the sharpest elbows in Broadcasting House”.

He joined the corporation in 2006, coming from The Independent, where he made his way up to becoming the title’s editor at the age of just 29.

The Mail on Sunday’s Glen Owen and Chris Hastings wrote: “At a time when white middle-aged broadcast veterans such as the BBC’s Andrew Marr and Sky’s Adam Boulton are ‘seeking new challenges’, republican Rajan has come to symbolise the changing of the media guard.”

The father-of-two is seen as a figure able to reach a younger, tougher audience.

Often wearing an earring, he is known to be an advocate of legalising cannabis and other drugs.

Once, when a Twitter user described him as a rude boy because of his looks, he replied: “Of course I’m a rude boy, mate. My daughter’s name is Jamaica.”

Mr Rajan went to a state school in Tooting, South London after arriving in the UK at the age of three.

Earlier this month, in an interview with BBC colleague John Simpson, who was reporting from Afghanistan, he told the veteran correspondent: “Keep going out there, mate.”

His rather fresh and natural approach to the job has gained him the nickname “Amol Nitrate” and certainly made some colleagues jealous.

One BBC source said in March: “The BBC’s management is dazzled by Rajan, and seem to think that every big job has to go to him.

“His magnificent vanity is tied up in a grotesque false modesty, allied to an acute understanding of power plays.”

Speculation about Ms Kuenssberg’s replacement — possibly with Mr Rajan — comes as it emerged the broadcaster was working on a significant reshuffle of senior on-air staff.

People with knowledge of the situation told the Guardian last month Ms Kuenssberg was in talks, after six years in her current position, to become the presenter of the Today Programme.

If negotiations come to fruition, the political editor’s departure would leave a vacancy in a highly sought-after role in the media landscape.

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Laura Kuenssberg warns of Tory MP’s ‘confidence shaking’

The journalist has this week been involved in a controversy that ended with culture secretary Nadine Dorris being accused of “policing” the BBC.

Ms Kuenssberg on Wednesday evening tweeted about the views of an MP angered by Boris Johnson’s handling of the Owen Paterson scandal.

She reported the MP — whose name she did not reveal — had described Mr Johnson as looking and sounding “weak” at a meeting and had claimed his “authority is evaporating”.

Ms Dorries responded to this on Twitter: “Laura, I very much like and respect you, but we both know that text is ridiculous.

“Although nowhere near as ridiculous as the person — obviously totally desperate for your attention — who sent it.”

Ms Dorris, who as culture secretary is in charge of setting the price of a BBC TV licence for the next five years — a subject for which the broadcaster is under growing pressure — later deleted the tweet.

Jo Stevens, the shadow culture secretary, raised the incident in the House of Commons on Thursday, saying: “We have spent much of the past two weeks talking about standards in public office, and on this side of the House we care deeply about the independence and the impartiality of the BBC.

“I know the Secretary of State also cares to the extent that she actually has the time to police the BBC’s political editor’s tweets and publicly rebuke her.

“But would she agree with me that it would be highly inappropriate for a government minister overseeing licence fee negotiations to seek to influence editorial decisions, including how the Prime Minister was interviewed, and using the threat of BBC licence fee funding whilst doing so?”

Ms Dorries said: “I did not rebuke Laura Kuenssberg, somebody who is maybe … the best in the business.

“The tweet was completely misinterpreted.

“I was not rebuking Laura Kuenssberg and never would.”

The BBC is facing unprecedented scrutiny over how its reporting shapes the national news agenda.

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