BBC pay-off 'hard to justify'

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said former director-General George Entwistle's £450,000 pay-off was "hard to justify", but that it was a matter for the BBC Trust to decide.

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Clegg: BBC's Enwistle pay-off 'difficult to justify'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told Daybreak former BBC Director-General George Entwistle's £450,000 pay-off is "difficult to justify" and "difficult to explain".

"My reaction was like everybody else's", Mr Clegg said. "Mr Entwistle was offered this money, he did not need to take it and it is up to the BBC to justify, as Lord Patten sought to, why they took this decision".

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke to Daybreak this morning Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

Asked about calls for Lord Patten to consider his position as Trust Chairman, Mr Clegg told BBC Breakfast, "I don't think it is the time to go round claiming that X person at the BBC should be promoted or Y person should resign".

"Clearly, the BBC is in a very difficult situation and is suffering a real crisis if you like of confidence in parts of the way in which some of the journalism is done in some programmes", he added.

BBC Trustee agreed pay-off 'while watching Strictly'

BBC Trust Vice-Chairman Diane Coyle agreed to outgoing Director-General George Entwistle's £450,000 pay-off while watching Strictly Come Dancing at home, The Times (£) reported.

Ms Coyle took to Twitter during the show, writing:

The BBC Trust told the newspaper Ms Coyle took a phone call from Chairman Lord Patten "during the broadcast of Strictly Come Dancing ... and then returned to watching television afterwards".

“Diane Coyle was consulted on Saturday evening as a member of the Remuneration Committee", the Trust was quoted as saying.



Lord Patten: Entwistle's payoff 'justified and necessary'

Lord Patten wrote to the chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, John Whittingdale, today to say that director general George Entwistle's £450,000 payoff was "justified and necessary".

In agreeing to 12 months' notice rather than six, we had in mind the following points. In the absence of George's honourable offer to resign, I would have had to speak to the Trustees about the option of termination by us (which, fortunately, was not necessary).

In these circumstances, George would have been entitled to 12 months' notice. In circumstances where we needed to conclude matters quickly and required George's ongoing co-operation in a number of very difficult and sensitive matters, including the inquiries into issues associated with (Jimmy) Savile, I concluded that a consensual resignation on these terms was clearly the better route.

I consulted my colleagues on the Trust's remuneration committee and took legal advice. Our conclusion was that a settlement on these terms was justified and necessary.

– Lord Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust
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