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Seven executives 'fell over themselves' over BBC payoffs

by - UK Editor

This was an attempt by MPs to try and work out why all the money that taxpayers pay in the licence fee was going - some of it to BBC bosses who were leaving.

I'm not sure they did get to the bottom of it because what we had was seven executives falling over themselves to insist they did not know about this, and that they weren't involved in things that other people said they were involved in.

Asign perhaps of the bitterness, when one BBC journalist tweeted that the BBCnewsroom had cheered at the exchange when the human resources boss was told off about 'lies'.

The MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, said this was an unedifying occasion forthe BBC that had served only to damage it and I think it will make thegovernment look again at how the BBC is regulated.

Read: Former BBC boss Mark Thompson defends payoffs

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Ex-BBC boss denies it 'lost the plot' over staff payoffs

Seven BBC executives - past and present - argued over who knew what and when about huge pay-offs to senior staff, as they appeared in front of the Public Accounts Committee today.

Former director-general Mark Thompson, was forced to deny a charge that the BBC had "lost the plot" when it agreed a pay-off of almost £1 million to his former deputy, Mark Byford.

ITV News' UK editor Lucy Manning reports.

Read: Former BBC boss Mark Thompson defends staff payoffs

Meeting will 'damage standing and reputation of BBC'

The chair of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge has described the questioning of BBC executives as an "unedifying occasion which can only damage the standing and the reputation of the BBC".

Current and former BBC executives were questioned by members of the committee today in the wake of controversy over large payoffs to corporation executives.

Margaret Hodge MP chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee Credit: PA Wire

Ms Hodge said: "At best what we've seen is incompetence, lack of central control, a failure to communicate for a broadcaster whose job is communicating.

"At worst we may have seen people covering their backs by being less than open. That is not good."

Read: BBC 'did not lose the plot' over £1 million payoff

Licence payers will be 'dismayed' by BBC evidence

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman. Credit: PA Wire

Licence fee payers will be "dismayed" by the evidence given by BBC executives past and present about massive payoffs to staff, a senior Labour MP warned.

Harriet Harman MP, shadow culture secretary, said: “Clearly the interests of the licence fee payers were not properly protected and there was a failure of governance.

"The Charter renewal process, and the debate around it, will be the opportunity to re-examine those governance issues."

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BBC payoffs meeting likened to game of whack-a-mole

Past and present BBC executives appear before the Public Accounts Committee. Credit: PA Wire

Committee member Chris Heaton-Harris compared the meeting to a fairground game, saying it was "the most bizarre game of whack-a-mole I've ever seen in my life, where you hit one fact down and it throws up other questions".

Turning to the witnesses, he said: "I just wonder if one of you would like to take responsibility for this?"

Ex-BBC boss defended over large payoffs to staff

Sir Michael Lyons, former chairman of the BBC Trust. Credit: PA Wire

Committee chair Margaret Hodge told Sir Michael Lyons, former chairman of the BBC Trust: "You could have done it for less, that's the whole premise for us."

He replied: "I have heard your message but I am not personally convinced that's the case. My judgment tends towards that of the Director General here."

He said that it was a way of doing things that prevented "disruption" to BBC services and projects that were in the pipeline.

Thompson: Byford payoff was 'value for money'

Mark Byford left the BBC with a total payout of £949,000. Credit: PA Wire

The former Director General of the BBC told the Commons Public Accounts Committee that he believed Mark Byford's severance package represented "value for money".

Mark Thompson also said he stood by his claim that the committee had been misled when they were told the Trust had been "kept in the dark" about severance packages.

BBC Trust boss under fire over excessive Byford payoff

Nicholas Kroll, Director of the BBC Trust, speaks to the Commons Public Accounts Committee. Credit: PA Wire

The director of the BBC Trust said he was not "closely involved" in the preparation of a note on about the Byford payment.

Nicholas Kroll, conceded the payoff was "unquestionably a large figure" but a matter for the remuneration committee and not the trust.

In response, Jackie Doyle-Price MP told him the protection of licence-fee payer's money was "a matter for the trust".

Ms Hodge told Mr Kroll that the "the job of the trust is to protect the licence fee payers' interests".

She added: "There is not one person around the table who can understand why there was no challenge from you".

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