UK & World News
BBC Takes Advice On Slashing Entwistle Pay-Off
The BBC has taken advice about recouping some of the £450,000 pay-off to its former director-general after being accused of a "cavalier" attitude over the handout.
BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten revealed they had discussed the possibility of using a claw back clause in the contract with lawyers but was doubtful it would apply.
For it to work, there would need to be very strong grounds implicating George Entwistle in Wednesday's Pollard review into the Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine scandals.
Mr Entwistle has already claimed the report vindicates him, although it does highlight his lack of control during the crisis and wider "chaos and confusion".
Lord Patten conceded the Trust had "in hindsight" chosen the wrong person for the top job but insisted the BBC would have ended up in an "appalling mess" had it not agreed to the deal.
His comments came as the corporation endured fresh criticism over the payment to the former director-general, who resigned in November after just 54 days in the job.
The BBC chief was forced to stand down because of his handling of the Jimmy Savile crisis and fallout from false claims on Newsnight about Lord McAlpine.
His £450,000 pay-off was double what he was owed under contract and he was also handed a raft of further benefits, including a year's private healthcare and money to handle the press.
The Commons' Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said this was "out of line both with public expectations and what is considered acceptable elsewhere in the public sector".
It also criticised the pay-offs given to 10 other senior managers, including £949,000 for former deputy director-general Mark Byford and £670,000 for former chief operating officer Caroline Thomson.
During a PAC session, MPs claimed Ms Thomson had been awarded the money partly as "compensation" after she missed out on the job of director-general.
The committee's report described the payments as "excessively generous" and also expressed concern that the BBC Trust had turned down an offer from the National Audit Office to examine its deal with Mr Entwistle.
Ms Hodge said: "The BBC's generosity with severance packages goes beyond the one awarded to George Entwistle. Since 2010, over £4m in total has been made in severance payments to 10 other departing senior managers.
"The BBC is also providing 422 senior managers with private medical cover as part of their remuneration packages.
"We have asked the comptroller and auditor general to include in his 2013 programme of work on the BBC an examination of severance payments and benefits for senior managers."
Mr Entwistle was only due £225,000 under his contract but demanded more. A deal was quickly signed off to allow a clean break and the appointment of a new boss as soon as possible.
The committee said: "By agreeing to this payment, the BBC Trust may have secured the director-general's quick departure but it did not act in the wider public interest. Public servants should not be rewarded for failure."
The Trust insists the terms were the "best available in the circumstances" because a legal battle had they refused would have taken time and could have cost even more.
Lord Patten told BBC's Radio 4 Today programme: "It was precisely because we were dealing with public money and a great public service broadcaster that we took the view that it was more sensible to settle for the amount that we were being asked for rather than fetch up paying more for a constructive dismissal."
He added: "We've taken legal advice about whether we could actually take any money back. In order for us to do so we have to be able to argue that, on the basis of what Pollard says, it would have been justified to make a summary dismissal of the former director-general.
"I rather doubt whether we will get the legal go ahead for that."
But Ms Hodge said: "They don't get it that they are being paid through the licence fee, which is a form of taxation, and they don't understand that people find this astonishing."
what do you think?
The BBC trust? That's one big joke!....
What I don't understand is why are they NOT given an appraisal like every other common worker. He by the looks of it and others were not capable people in the job capacity role. We would like our licence fee money back please Mr BBC, it's a judgement call yet again they have gotten wrong!!!
Licence fee?.... Demanding money with menaces more like! This has to be the most anachronistic tax ever.
It's not a fee, It's not a tax.....It's state backed theft. Time to bring this huge monster of a gravy train to a halt.
Vin and Gill
Agree J - come to think of it the word 'trust' in the same sentence as 'BBC' is a bit of a misnomer really !
And who do BBC television have to criticise excessive payments ? Margaret Hodge, one of the wealthiest people in parliament and a Labour MP !! if you please One of the " Plebs " ?
the same woman who failed to protect children in Islington.
EVERYBODY IN G.B. SHOULD JUST STOP PAYING THERE LICENCE FEE AND TELL THE B.B.C TO STUFF IT 8 WEEKS AND HE GETS 450.000 THIS IS WRONG
Help me on this if everyone stopped paying would it be a civil or criminal matter? Every time you turn the BBC news on it has to be the most stayed presentation ever!!!
Not having a TV license is a criminal offence .Hard to believe, but true.
It would be " fait accompli " something that the government could do little about ( short of a bloodbath ) and they would be forced to review the BBC charter, big time !
I calculate that is roughly £11,250 for each working day.
" working " day ? I dare bet that you`re wrong there.
Edgar, my apologies! I use the term loosely.
Not a problem - we ignore all contractual obligations, even to the lower paid and this situation would not occur in the future. MP's and people in the Uk need to wake up to the real World
The problem is obviously in the contract in the first place - legally binding, but morally abhorrant. And I think you should realise that a lower paid person's contract is, in reality, not worth the paper it's written on. That is the real world.
Brian - get that huge chip off your shoulder
The BBC news the other night purported that the British public still trust The BBC news more that any other source ! they would say that wouldn't they.
tb. Just another of the half truths that the BBC peddle every day
People are struggling to pay for food and the great BBC hand our money out to each other by the barrow load with a pat on the back. Why are we letting these troughers get away with it. I a political party where to run as a one issue part with the end of the licence extortion racket then they would get into power easily. I can't understand why one of the outsiders hasn't adopted this as a policy.
Let the paying public elect the next BBC board sack all these toadies telling us half truths at the control of the Government`s.
Poor Mr Entwistle was only due £225,000. Well for 56 days thats not bad I would say! Jimmy had a lot ! The BBC has had us all !