Thompson: BBC knew of payoffs

The former BBC director-general Mark Thompson has hit back at claims by the BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten, insisting the corporation was aware of the scale of hefty pay-offs made to former executives.

Latest ITV News reports

Former BBC chief 'paid extra £73,000 for unused leave'

The BBC's media and arts correspondent David Sillito is reporting that the payout for former BBC deputy director-general may be higher than initially thought.

David Sillito claims:

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Final payoff to BBC's Mark Byford not £949 000 but £1 022 000. The extra was £73 000 for unused leave accrued before 2004.

Read more: BBC HR director says Byford's £949K payoff is 'uncomfortable'

Read more: Mark Thompson: BBC Trust 'knew' about large payoffs

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Mark Thompson: BBC Trust 'knew' about large payoffs

Mark Thompson says the BBC Trust was informed in advance about the size of severance packages. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire/

Former BBC director-general Mark Thompson says the BBC Trust was aware of the scale of hefty pay-offs made to former staff.

The chairman of the BBC Trust Lord Patten told the Commons Public Accounts Committee yesterday that he was "shocked and dismayed" to learn that the BBC has spent £25m in pay-offs to senior managers.

But Mr Thompson said today that he wanted to take issue with suggestions that the BBC Trust had not been fully aware of the details of severance packages to former deputy director general Mark Byford and former marketing chief Sharon Baylay.

"I had made sure that the Trust were aware of and understood all potentially contentious issues," he said.

Ten biggest BBC staff payouts in three years to 2012

BBC bosses have been grilled by MPs over how senior staff were given huge severance pay-offs that breached the corporation's own guidelines.

Below are the top 10 payments in the three years to December 2012. The largest was a payment to former deputy director general Mark Byford, who received £949,000, including £73,000 for unused leave.

The top ten payments accounted for 20% of the BBC’s total spend on severance for 150 senior managers. Credit: BBC Trust

Former chief operating officer Caroline Thomson left last year with £666, 400 - more than twice her £330,000 salary.

Read: Lord Patten 'shocked' by BBC payoffs

New York Times: Mark Thompson has 'full support'

Former BBC Director-General Mark Thompson Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Earlier today, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten seemed to suggest that former director-general Mark Thompson should be called to give evidence about payoffs to former senior staff members.

In response, the New York Times Company, where Thompson is currently chief executive, has said:

"Mark continues to have the full support of The New York Times Company board and of his colleagues in management."

Read: Patten suggests ex-BBC boss has questions to answer

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

BBC Trust member Anthony Fry has been questioned by MPs about a letter former director-general Mark Thompson wrote to the trust about a payoff to his deputy.

The letter reportedly said the payment to former deputy director-general Mark Byford, who walked away with almost £1 million, was within contractual arrangements when in fact it was not.

Asked if Mr Thompson had lied to him, Mr Fry refused to reply and said there was "some disconnect" between what was in the letter and what was subsequently uncovered in a National Audit Office report.

MPs likely to ask about Roly Keating's £375K payoff

Former BBC executive Roly Keating
Former BBC executive Roly Keating Credit: Edmond Terakopian/PA Wire

BBC bosses are also likely to be quizzed by MPs about the payoff to former BBC2 controller Roly Keating who reportedly took home £375,000.

Mr Keating later returned the sum after a report from the National Audit Office ruled that the decision to award the payoff was "seriously deficient".

Read: £949K payoff to Mark Byford is 'uncomfortable' for BBC

£949K payoff to Mark Byford is 'uncomfortable' for BBC

Among the payoffs revealed by a National Audit Office is that of the BBC's former deputy director general Mark Byford who reportedly received £949,000 when he left the corporation in 2011.

Former BBC Deputy director-general Mark Byford
Former BBC Deputy director-general Mark Byford Credit: PA/PA Wire

BBC HR director Lucy Adams admitted to the committee that the size of the payoff was "uncomfortable," but said it had been agreed at the time because Mr Byford agreed to leave before the stipulated 12 month notice period.

It was "customer practice at that time," she added.

Patten suggests ex-BBC boss has questions to answer

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten seemed to suggest that former director-general Mark Thompson should be called to give evidence when questioned by MPs today.

Asked why he did not know some payoffs had gone beyond what was contractually needed, he told the committee: "If you call a previous director general of the BBC I will be as interested as you are why we didn't know."

Speaking about Mr Thompson's eventual successor George Entwistle, who stood down after a few weeks in the job, Lord Patten said his payoff of £450,000 was necessary to prevent a potentially larger bill if they had got bogged down in legal argument.

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