LONDON--Edelman has named the BBC director of communications Ed Williams as its new UK CEO.

The news brings an end to a lengthy search for the position, which has been vacant since Robert Phillips was promoted to EMEA CEO at the end of 2010. Williams will report to Phillips.

When contacted by the Holmes Report, Phillips confirmed the appointment.

In an internal staff announcement, Phillips said: "Ed brings with him not only a wealth of talent in the news and entertainment and the content and digital spaces, but also a hugely impressive track record in crisis and Issues management. He is one of the most respected corporate counsellors in the UK today and his most recent role at the BBC makes him uniquely placed to understand the pressures of a multiple stakeholder society – from business to politics."

Acting chief executive Susan Eastoe will move to an expanded role within the EMEA leadership team in early 2012, as well as continuing to serve on Edelman’s global strategy committee.

Williams departs the BBC after three years heading its communications function. BBC COO Caroline Thomson paid tribute to Williams' tenure in an internal memo, pointing out that he had "fundamentally changed" the organisation's approach to communications.

"We are now strategic, proactive in the management of reputational issues, and blessed with an experienced team that Ed leaves behind."

Williams will remain at the BBC until September. Before joining the organisation he was director of corporate communications for 3, Hutchison Whampoa's telecoms business in the UK.

His time at the BBC has been marked by a range of major issues, including the Jonathan Ross scandal, executive pay levels, and the organisation's relocation to Salford.

He also spent almost six years at Brunswick Group LLP, advising on media relations, corporate positioning, crisis management and campaigns, as well as merger and acquisition communications.

In an individual capacity, Williams has worked as media consultant to General Wesley Clark during his time as a witness at the Milosevic trial.