Outspoken lawyer Andrew Sparrow is to quit Birmingham for London.

A thorn in the flesh of many Birmingham's politicians and business leaders for almost two decades, he is leaving, he says, for largely professional reasons - much of his work is now in the capital.

Yesterday he denied he was going because his influence had been marginalised in recent years.

"I am not bitter - just disappointed," said Mr Sparrow.

But his has for some while been a somewhat lonely existence, kept out of the loop and taking potshots from outside.

He should have become chairman of Birmingham Forward, the professional sector lobbying body, but he was squeezed out after mounting an attack on lack of leadership in the city - comments which council leader Mike Whitby took as a personal slight.

That Mr Sparrow was also a Labour Party activist didn't exactly help.

And the hurt is clearly quite raw for Mr Sparrow.

"The current leadership won't be there forever," he warned. "Yes, it was hard, but I still feel positive about Birmingham."

And, in what could be taken as a plea for others to step into his shoes as a scourge of the establishment, he stressed: "There needs to be strong characters in Birmingham."

Mr Sparrow, founder of niche new media law firm Lecote Solicitors, is linking up with London-based Rochman Landau Solicitors.

Rochman Landau is a commercial law specialist, and whilst Lecote - now five years old - will be wholly integrated into the firm, the practice will remain independent.

He will start there at the end of October, commuting to London initially. Mr Sparrow said Rochman Landau was one of a number of London firms that had invited him to join in recent years.

"Joining forces with Rochman Landau represents the right opportunity to further develop my practice and continue to pioneer new media and internet law, although it is with a heavy heart that I leave Birmingham, where I have spent my entire professional career as a lawyer."

During his spell in Birmingham, the high profile campaigner devoted a huge amount of time to helping promote and develop the city - he claims to have attended more than 3,500 business networking events and at one time was almost a fixture in the Post People pages of The Birmingham Post.

He was chairman of Birmingham Press Club for six years, chairman of the Birmingham Business Breakfast Club for nine years, a director of Birmingham Forward for six years and one of the main drivers in setting up Birmingham Professional DiverCity, where he has been a director for five years.

He said: "I have always felt deeply about the need to address ethnic diversity issues in the city's professional community, and feel proud to be associated with this initiative, which is a national first."