High-profile journalist Martin Bashir is returning to BBC News after 12 years away.
Bashir takes up the role of religious affairs correspondent, replacing Caroline Wyatt who stepped down this summer after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
The posting was advertised online as a grade 10 role, which according to an internal BBC report published by the Telegraph attracts an average salary of £60,000.
Bashir made his name conducting high-profile interviews, including with Princess Diana and Michael Jackson, as well as documentaries such as an investigation into abuse within the Church of Scientology and exposing the “BALCO” performance-enhancing drugs scandal.
Bashir worked as a BBC News correspondent from 1987 to 1992 before moving on to Panorama for five years.
He presented BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme until 2004 before switching to ITV’s Tonight.
Later he moved to the USA to host ABC’s Nightline programme. In 2010 he joined NBC News as an anchor for MSNBC and a correspondent on NBC’s Dateline programme.
He resigned from MSNBC in 2013 after he accused Sarah Palin of making light of slavery and called her America’s “resident dunce”.
Jonathan Munro, head of BBC Newsgathering, said: “Martin’s track record in enterprising journalism is well known and respected in the industry and amongst our audiences.
“As a student of theology, Martin will bring immense knowledge of the brief to his new role, and an enthusiasm to cover the broadest range of faith-based stories.”
Bashir said: “The opportunity to cover the broad spectrum of religious affairs is challenging and compelling and I cannot wait to get started.”