BBC bosses came under fire from MPs today over large payoffs to former staff.

Seven executives - both past and present - argued over who knew what and when about huge payoffs to senior staff as they gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today.

ITV News' UK Editor Lucy Manning reports:

Former Director General Mark Thompson denied that the BBC had "lost the plot" when it agreed a payoff of almost £1 million to former deputy Mark Byfod, instead stating his belief that Mr Byford's severance package represented "value for money" after coming under pressure from the Trust to make savings.

In written evidence published ahead of today's meeting, Mr Thompson accused BBC Trust boss Lord Patten and trustee Anthony Fry of "fundamentally misleading" committee members at a previous hearing when they told MPs that members of the Trust were not always included in decision-making.

Mr Thompson said he stood by his claim that the statements were "damaging and unfair", adding: "I don't understand why those misleading comments were made.

Lord Patten said he took the charge of misleading the committee "very strongly" arguing: "I'm in the position in which I'm accused of having misled the committee on something I didn't know and couldn't have been expected to know."

Lord Patten, Chairman, BBC Trust. Credit: PA Wire

Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, described the meeting as a "grossly unedifying occasion which can only damage the standing and the reputation of the BBC".

She 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."

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

The BBC's outgoing HR boss, Lucy Adams, faced criticism after she previously admitted making a mistake in her evidence to the committee.

Ms Adams, who announced last month she was quitting the BBC, initially told MPs she had not seen a note detailing plans for payoffs to Mark Byford and marketing boss Sharon Baylay - but now admits she helped write it.

Committee chair Margaret Hodge told Ms Adams: "I am not having any more lies this afternoon."

The BBC's HR boss Lucy Adams appears before the Commons Public Accounts Committee. Credit: PA Wire

Tory MP and Committee member Chris Heaton-Harris likened 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".

Ms Hodge said the evidence suggested the governance of the BBC was "broke".

Ms Hodge said the evidence suggested the governance of the BBC was "broke".

She said: "We all around the table feel it is broke. What are you going to change?"

Lord Patten said he wanted more time to prove the governing structure of the BBC could work and said there was "a cultural issue" of high pay that had to be dealt with and apologised for.