News boss who branded Boris Johnson a ‘liar’ stepping down

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA. - Credit: PA

The boss of Channel 4 News is stepping down after 17 years in the role, months after calling out politicians who tell lies.

Dorothy Byrne, who was born in Paisley and raised in Blackpool, made headlines when she used last year's prestigious MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival to attack politicians who avoided public scrutiny and abusive men in the media.

In remarks that were said to infuriate Downing Street, she asked: 'What do we do when a known liar becomes our prime minister?'

Byrne later defended the remarks on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, saying: 'My job is to speak truth to power and my concern about politicians not telling the truth is not some eccentric view of my own - it is one shared by the British people.'

She will take on a new role for one year from May 1, developing new factual podcast and sustainability strategies, and mentoring staff across the channel.

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Byrne will continue to contribute towards programme ideas but will not take an active commissioning role.

She said in a statement: 'The last year has been one of great success for Channel 4 News and Current Affairs and for me personally so it's the perfect time for me to step aside and give someone else the pleasure of the best job in television.

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'I will continue to contribute to the creative life of the channel.

'I am also very excited to be working to help develop the careers of staff, particularly of women, at the channel and also to be playing a key role in the creation of a new sustainability policy for Channel 4.'

Channel 4 director of programmes Ian Katz said: 'No British media executive has done as much to shape the coverage of news and current affairs on television as Dorothy.

'Over more than 15 years she has been the restless force behind agenda-setting Channel 4 programming from the exposing of war crimes in Sri Lanka and Myanmar to the recent laying bare of Michael Jackson's child sexual abuse.

'She has a laser-like eye for a story, huge creative flair and Channel 4 DNA running through her like rock.

'I'm so pleased that she will be staying at the channel for another year in her new role as editor-at-large.'

The news comes weeks after Tory MPs claimed Boris Johnson had privately confirmed his intention to sell off Channel 4.

The Sunday Express reported one Conservative politician as saying: 'Boris has privately confirmed that he will definitely privatise Channel 4. He thinks it's a great idea. There is no business for the public to own it anyway'.

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