The chairman of the BBC Trust Lord Patten today admitted it was with "shock and dismay" that he discovered the scale of the hefty pay-offs made to former staff.
Appearing alongside him before the Commons Public Accounts Committee, director-general Tony Hall admitted the corporation had "lost the plot" over pay and remuneration
The displays of regret came after a National Audit Office (NAO) report showed some departing staff had been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds more than they were contractually owed.
ITV News' Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports:
The report found that the BBC has made payments totalling £60 million to 401 different senior managers since 2005.
In almost a quarter of the individual cases reviewed by the NAO, the** **BBC paid out more than the staff were entitled to under their contracts.
Some of the largest remuneration packages were as follows:
- Deputy director-general Mark Byford (left BBC in June 2011) - £949,000
- Chief Operating Officer Caroline Thomson (left BBC in September 2012) - £860,200
- Director-general Mark Thompson (left BBC in November 2011) - £503,000
- Director-general George Entwistle (left BBC last November) -£802,000
Among the highest payoffs was that of the BBC's former deputy director general Mark Byford who received £949,000 when he left the corporation in 2011.
BBC HR director Lucy Adams admitted that the size of the payoff was "uncomfortable," but said it had been agreed at the time because Mr Byford left before the stipulated 12 month notice period.
She said she was concerned that "if we didn't pay him to go he would stay" and that would have cost more.
BBC Trust member Anthony Fry was grilled over a letter former director general Mark Thompson wrote to the Trust regarding this payment. The letter reportedly said the fee was within contractual arrangements when in fact it was not.
Mr Fry refused to say whether Mr Thompson had lied to him, admitting only that there was "some disconnect" between what was in the letter and what was subsequently uncovered in a NAO report.
Only one former executive, BBC2 controller Roly Keating, has so far returned his payoff after the NAO concluded that the decision to award it had been "seriously deficient".
Whilst Lord Patten welcomed this "gesture," he said he was not willing to "risk asking for money back, lose in court, and fetch up paying more money from the licence fee payer".