SARAH Smith has been appointed as the BBC’s new North America editor, the corporation has announced.

The journalist takes over from Jon Sopel, host of the BBC’s Americast podcast, who left the post last month after seven years.

Smith’s previous role was as the broadcaster’s first-ever Scotland editor, a position she has held since rejoining the company in 2014.

Prior to this, she was based in the US working for Channel 4 and helped cover big American news stories such as the 2008 presidential election and the global financial crash.

Smith is also a regular host on BBC programmes including the Today programme and Newsnight.

She began her journalistic career as a trainee at BBC Scotland.

Her father was former Labour leader John Smith, who served as party leader from July 1992 until his death from a heart attack in May 1994.

Commenting on the announcement, Smith said: “I am thrilled to be appointed as the BBC’s North America Editor.

“This is such a fascinating time in US politics and society, and I am very excited to be reporting these stories for our BBC audience.

“I am looking forward to covering as much of the country as possible and to delving into the issues and controversies that define America as the nation also faces new challenges abroad.”

Smith will take up the post, based in Washington DC, early in the New Year, to replace Sopel.

Sopel tweeted: “Delighted for you @BBCsarahsmith – you will have a ball.

“I have loved my seven years here. It has to be one of the best jobs in the BBC.”

BBC News’ deputy director, Jonathan Munro, said: “Sarah is a world-class journalist who will bring huge experience to this important role.

“She built her career in the US and is a close follower of American politics and society.

“Sarah is an expert at relating complex issues to audiences and we look forward to seeing her reports from across the Atlantic.”