THE BBC has announced who will be taking on the role of Scotland editor after Sarah Smith left the position to work in North America.
Smith, the daughter of late Labour leader John Smith, took over the US role from Jon Sopel after spending six years as Scotland editor at a UK level.
Now James Cook is taking on the brief. Cook has been at the BBC since 2008, reporting in the US and in Scotland. He covered the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum extensively.
Cook, originally from Forfar, currently serves as chief news correspondent at The Nine.
On his appointment, the journalist said: “I am delighted to be taking on this exciting role at a fascinating stage in Scotland’s story. I’m looking forward to reporting on a wide range of issues and hearing a diverse variety of views from all around the country.”
Richard Burgess, the interim senior controller of BBC News Content, added: “As well as being an excellent journalist, James also cares deeply about Scotland – its history, culture and politics – and has a strong commitment to our core BBC values of impartiality, accuracy and fairness.
“He has a clear vision for the Scotland Editor role, knows what works on digital and crucially, what matters in modern Scotland.”
The Scotland editor role has only ever been filled by Smith, as it was first created in 2015. The journalist had a number of controversies while in the job, including a row over saying Nicola Sturgeon “enjoyed” setting different Covid restrictions to England during the first wave of the virus.
The comment prompted thousands of people to complain to the broadcaster.
Roughly a year later Smith apologised for saying Alex Salmond had called on Sturgeon to resign during his appearance at a Holyrood committee. This was not what the former first minister told the panel of MSPs during the session.
On Twitter, Smith clarified: “On the 6 o’clock news headline tonight I said that Alex Salmond had claimed the First Minister had ‘broken the ministerial code and that he thinks she should resign’. I would like to clarify that Mr Salmond did not say that the First Minister should resign.”
Cook will start his new job in the coming weeks and be based at Pacific Quay.