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Former BBC Director General questioned amid pay rows

Former Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, will be questioned today by MPs over the heavily criticised payouts to a number of BBC staff.

Mr Thompson's appearance comes after he accused BBC Trust boss Lord Patten and trustee Anthony Fry of "fundamentally misleading" members of the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

His attack came in the form of a written statement submitted ahead of this afternoon's hearing.

Mark Thompson accused BBC Trust boss Lord Patten and trustee Anthony Fry of 'fundamentally misleading' MPs Credit: Press Association.

Lord Patten and Mr Fry, told MPs members of the Trust were not always included in decision-making.

Mr Fry said there was ''some disconnect'' between what Mr Thompson had written in a letter to the Trust about deputy director general Mark Byford's payoff, in which he declared it was within contractual arrangements, when the National Audit Office (NAO) found it was not.

Mr Byford departed the BBC with a total payout of £949,000.

Lord Patten and Mark Thompson face MPs over payoffs

BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten and former BBC Director General Mark Thompson will each appear in front of MPs from the Public Accounts Committee today to give more evidence about BBC severance packages.

Lord Patten, Chairman of BBC Trust, will face MPs this morning. Credit: Reuters

A row broke out between the two last week after Mark Thompson said Lord Patten had been made aware of the controversial payoffs - something he denies.

MPs will also hear from Marcus Agius, former Chairman of the BBC Executive Board Renumeration Committee; Lord Anthony Fry, BBC Trustee; Sir Michael Lyons, former Trust Chairman and outgoing HR Director Lucy Adams.


Lord Patten told MPs to call Thompson over payoffs

Lord Patten told a Public Accounts Committee that they would need to speak to the previous Director General Mark Thompson when he was questioned about payoffs.

Referring to his own lack of knowledge over the payments in July, Lord Patten told MPs: "If you call a previous director general of the BBC I will be as interested as you are why we didn't know."

Lord Patten appearing at a Public Accounts Committee about BBC staff pay-offs in July. Credit: PA Wire

At the time Mr Thompson claimed that the BBC Trust was aware of the scale of hefty pay-offs made to former staff.

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:

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.

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."

'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.

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