O'Reilly leaves Fox News amid harassment claims

Fox News has dropped one of its best-known presenters, Bill O'Reilly, following accusations of sexual harassment.

"After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel," the broadcaster said in a statement.

O'Reilly said in a statement it is "tremendously disheartening" to leave due to what he called "completely unfounded claims".

Earlier this month, reports claimed O'Reilly, Fox and parent company 21st Century Fox had agreed settlements totalling $13m (£16.6m) with five women who had accused O'Reilly of sexual harassment or verbal abuse.

The veteran presenter, 67, said at the time that he had settled only to spare his children from the controversy.

O'Reilly has been an anchor at Fox News since he started at the network in 1996 and his show, The O'Reilly Factor, is the channel's top-rated programme, bringing in $147m (£188m) in advertising revenue in 2016, according to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media.

But since reports of the alleged payoffs surfaced, dozens of advertisers, including BMW, have pulled out of the show.

O'Reilly has been on holiday since 12 April, and was photographed shaking hands with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, although it was not clear whether the Pontiff knew who O'Reilly was.

He will be replaced in the prime-time lineup by Fox host Tucker Carlson.

21st Century Fox currently owns 39.1% of Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, and is attempting to purchase the remainder of the company.