BBC pay-off a 'reward for failure'

MPs have delivered a scathing assessment of the way the BBC paid off former Director General George Entwistle at the expense of the licence fee payer. The Public Accounts Committee says it was a "reward for failure".

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BBC faces investigation over management pay-offs

The NAO said last month it would investigate George Entwistle's pay-off
The NAO said last month it would investigate George Entwistle's pay-off Credit: PA

The public spending watchdog is to investigate BBC severance packages after it emerged almost 200 senior managers received pay-offs of more than £100,000 each in the past three years.

The National Audit Office (NAO) will examine the situation after MPs said pay-offs for senior BBC figures had been "excessively generous".

The investigation was sparked after George Entwistle, the former director general, stood down over the Jimmy Savile scandal with a £450,000 pay-off.

Today an NAO spokesman said the decision to look at BBC severance packages was taken in the light of Mr Entwistle's departure.

A spokesman for the BBC Trust said: "The chairman previously suggested that it would be useful for the NAO to look not just at the package George Entwistle received, but at severance pay in the BBC more widely.

"We have received their schedule of work for 2013 and we are pleased to see that they will take this approach in a planned review for next year."

Patten: BBC advised it was not possible to reclaim pay-off

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said the BBC had been advised it was not possible to try and get back the almost half a million pound pay-off warded to departing director-general George Entwistle. He told UK editor Lucy Manning yesterday:

"We have taken legal advice, and we would have needed I think, to be able to demonstrate that the report would have enabled us to do a summary dismissal, when he was working at the BBC, and the legal advice was we couldn't do that"

BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten.
BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten. Credit: ITV News

More: Watch the full interview here.

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'Cavalier use of public money' seen as reward for failure

This is the package former BBC Director General George Entwistle received when leaving the corporation:

  • Lump sum of £450,000, twice what he was contractually entitled to
  • 12 months private medical cover
  • Contribution to the cost of his legal fees
  • Public relations advice to deal with press interest

The Public Accounts Committee said this "cavalier use of public money" was out of line with public expectations and what is considered acceptable elsewhere in the public sector.

Scathing report attacks payoff for former BBC boss

MPs have delivered a scathing assessment of the way the BBC paid off former Director General George Entwistle at the expense of the licence fee payer.

Former BBC Director General George Entwistle outside BBC Broadcasting House after announcing his resignation in November
Former BBC Director General George Entwistle outside BBC Broadcasting House after announcing his resignation in November Credit: Press Association

George Entwistle received £450,000 when he was forced out of the job after just 54 days. The sum was twice what he was entitled to, as set out in his contract.

He resigned following a series of scandals at the BBC involving Jimmy Savile, and the false allegations made in a Newsnight report about Lord McAlpine.