UK & World News
Ex-BBC Boss Thompson: Patten 'Misled' MPs
Former BBC director general Mark Thompson has accused BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten of misleading Parliament over pay-offs to outgoing bosses at the corporation.
He claims Lord Patten and BBC Trustee Anthony Fry told "specific untruths and inaccuracies" in evidence to MPs investigating the controversial golden goodbye deals.
Mr Thompson, who is now Chief Executive of The New York Times, is due to appear before the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday.
And in a written submission to the MPs ahead of the hearing he insisted that Lord Patten had been "fully briefed" about the details of severance packages to former deputy director general Mark Byford and former marketing chief Sharon Baylay.
The Guardian reported that Mr Thompson's written evidence to the committee said: "The picture painted for the PAC by the BBC Trust witnesses on 10 July 2013 was - in addition to specific untruths and inaccuracies - fundamentally misleading about the extent of Trust knowledge and involvement.
"The insinuation that they were kept in the dark by me or anyone else is false and is not supported by the evidence."
In evidence in July Mr Fry told the PAC that members of the Trust were not always included in decision-making.
He also said there was "some disconnect" in what Mr Thompson had written in a letter to the Trust about Mr Byford's pay-off, in which he had apparently declared it was within contractual arrangements, when the National Audit Office (NAO) had found it was not.
Mr Byford departed with a total payout of £949,000 and Ms Baylay's settlement was worth £394,638.
Mr Thompson reportedly claimed that Lord Patten knew in 2011 that both had received settlements of more than they were contractually entitled to and their formal notice of departure was delayed.
"In fact, Lord Patten was himself fully briefed, in writing as well as orally, about the Mark Byford and Sharon Baylay settlements soon after his arrival as chairman in 2011," Mr Thompson said.
He concludes that the evidence given to the NAO and PAC was "inadequate, and in some important instances, very misleading testimony".
A BBC Trust spokesman said: "This is a bizarre document. We reject the suggestion that Lord Patten and Anthony Fry misled the PAC.
"We completely disagree with Mark Thompson's analysis, much of which is unsubstantiated, in particular the suggestion that Lord Patten was given a full and formal briefing on the exact terms of Mark Byford's departure, which in any event took place before the current Chairman's arrival at the Trust."
Asked about Mr Thompson's challenge to Lord Patten, the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "It's clearly very important that the licence fee payers feel they are getting value for money for their licence fee.
"The BBC itself has said a number of these payments were not the right thing to have done. He (the PM) has previously said there is very understandable concern. The right thing is for Parliament to scrutinise it in the way it is."