(c) PA Mr Thompson giving evidence
Senior BBC figures are appearing before MPs on the Public Accounts Select Committee facing questions about pay offs given to departing executives. Former director general Mark Thompson has accused the trust which oversees the BBC of “fundamentally misleading” Parliament over severance payments at an earlier hearing.
Also set to appear are Marcus Agius, former chairman of the BBC Executive Board Remuneration Committee, Lord Patten, chairman, BBC Trust, Anthony Fry, BBC Trustee, Sir Michael Lyons, former trust chairman, Lucy Adams, BBC HR director, and Nicholas Kroll, a director of the BBC Trust
By Lina Saigol and Emily Cadman
George Entwistle was lambasted last week for his £450,000 severance pay and his pension pot of £877,000 after the former BBC director-general resigned just two months into the job.
But Mr Entwistle has missed out on a much larger annual pension because he joined the BBC just months after the broadcaster introduced a cap on payment for retired executives in early 1989.
At the time of the corporation’s last report and accounts Mr Entwistle was eligible for a pension of £59,000 when he reaches retirement age at 60. Read more
Welcome to a live blog of George Entwistle’s appearance in front of the Commons culture, media and sport committee to answer questions about the Jimmy Savile scandal. Mr Entwistle will be answering questions about why Newsnight dropped an investigation, featuring witnesses who had not spoken to the police, into whether Jimmy Savile molested vulnerable young girls at a young offenders’ home as well as broader questions about the entertainer’s alleged abuse of minors on the BBC’s property in the 1970s and 80s.
12.36: That’s it for the MPs, with Entwistle taking a battering over failures in the system of decision making and his own command of the facts. The independence of BBC journalism and the hierarchical nature of the organisation seemed to frustrate the committee. The DG seemed to make life very difficult for Peter Rippon, the man who made the decision to drop the investigation, but there is still an inquiry going on into that which now seems a long way off – six weeks. Calling Rippon must surely be a next and necessary step for the committee.
12.34: Entwistle says the Pollard review into the Newsnight decision to drop the inquiry could take six weeks. Ben Bradshaw calls that “absurd” and says he must get a grip on the information. Read more
During party conferences, the BBC broadcast a piece of footage showing Andrew Tyrie, the chair of the Treasury select committee, talking in hushed tones to Steve Hilton and Craig Oliver before being interviewed by one of their reporters. The Beeb noted that after meeting the pair, Tyrie gave a much more positive assessment of George Osborne’s economic strategy than he had done just a few days before. We noted the encounter here on the blog, as did a number of other media outlets.
The coverage infuriated Tyrie, who says his independence was being called into question unfairly. Well now the BBC has issued a fairly extraordinary on-air apology, stating: Read more
The spending review did not end in the way most people expected. When Cameron’s top team gathered around the Chequers table on Sunday to tuck in to roast lamb and Yorkshire puddings, there was virtually no talk of squeezing out extra savings to balance the books. They had money to spare.
This was not the impression given to the rest of the cabinet, or indeed the BBC. But the truth was that the Treasury was sitting on a small cash-pile. After agreeing all the big budgets, there was £1bn or more left in the emergency fund for the quad — Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and Alexander — to distribute.
“They went from the horsemen of the apocalypse to Father Christmas overnight,” said one official close to the final days of the spending negotiation.
This back of the sofa discovery is a feature of spending rounds. The Treasury always set cautious targets so there is some flexibility at the end. But how Cameron handled the mini windfall is revealing. It gives us an insight into both his priorities and the methods he used to bluff the BBC into paying for the World Service. Read more