1. ITV Report

Former Director General Mark Thompson claims BBC Trust 'misled MPs'

Former BBC Director General Mark Thompson disputes the BBC Trust's version of events Photo:

Former BBC chief Mark Thompson has launched a scathing attack on the BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten, accusing him of misleading MPs over large payoffs to departing top brass at the broadcaster.

He claims that Lord Patten and BBC Trustee Anthony Fry wrongly accused him of keeping them in the dark about the nature of the payments when they gave evidence to MPs in July.

Mr Thompson made the accusations in a written submission to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) ahead of his appearance on Monday.

The picture painted for the PAC by the BBC Trust witnesses on 10 July 2013 was - in addition to specific untruths and inaccuracies - fundamentally misleading about the extent of Trust knowledge and involvement.

The insinuation that they were kept in the dark by me or anyone else is false and is not supported by the evidence.

– mark thompson's submission, as quoted in the guardian
Lord Patten appearing at a Public Accounts Committee in July

The BBC Trust responded quickly, calling Mr Thompson's account "bizarre" and rejecting his version of events.

We completely disagree with Mark Thompson's analysis, much of which is unsubstantiated, in particular the suggestion that Lord Patten was given a full and formal briefing on the exact terms of Mark Byford's departure.

– bbc trust statement

The dispute relates to a series of large payoffs given to departing BBC executives, which the PAC has been tasked with investigating.

Mr Thompson and the BBC Trust disagree about how much the latter knew about a £949,000 payment to outgoing director-general Mark Byford in 2011, which was found to be above what he was contractually owed.

In July, Lord Patten told the PAC that members of the Trust were not fully informed about payment.

Asked how this could be, he said: "If you call a previous director general of the BBC I will be as interested as you are why we didn't know." This was widely interpreted as meaning that they should talk to Mr Thompson.

Former director-general Mark Byford left the BBC in 2011 with a payoff of almost £1 million

Mr Fry confirmed to the PAC that the Trust had received a letter from Mr Thompson about the payoffs, but that there was "some disconnect" between their accounts of its contents.

Read: 'Some disconnect' over ex-BBC number two Byford's payout

Mr Thompson reportedly claimed that Lord Patten knew in 2011 that Mr Byford and another member of staff received settlements of more than they were contractually entitled to.

"In fact, Lord Patten was himself fully briefed, in writing as well as orally, about the Mark Byford and Sharon Baylay settlements soon after his arrival as chairman in 2011," Mr Thompson said.

Mark Thompson will appear before the Public Accounts Committee on Monday.

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