The lavish use of licence fee payers money on payouts and perks to senior BBC managers has become the third big crisis to engulf the corporation in as many months.

In the wake of the Savile and Newsnight scandals that cost George Entwistle his job, the BBC is facing widespread criticism in newspapers and social media after the Public Accounts Committee’s hearing yesterday into George Entwistle’s 450k pay-off.

MPs were told ten BBC executives had received "golden goodbye" payments totalling £4 million in recent years, including Entwistle and former chief operating officer Caroline Thomson, who left in September. Thomson left with a £670,000 pay-off – more than twice her £330,000 salary.

Tory MP Guto Bebb said: ‘It does look as though losing a job at the BBC is the same as winning the lottery.’

It also emerged that 574 BBC senior executives received private healthcare as part of their deals, worth in the region of £2m in total.

Former C5 chief executive David Elstein criticised the "gravy train" of BBC executives.

Elstein, writing in The Times, said: "Mr Entwistle claimed he had acted ‘honourably’ in resigning over the Newsnight fiasco. Well, honourable resignation would have involved taking no pay-off at all, having failed in the job.
"A less honourable resignation would have been to take the six months of his newly enlarged salary, as his contract allowed.

"His demanding the 12-month pay-off that sacking apparently entitled him to, while claiming to have resigned, was reprehensible. It is not possible to be honourable and greedy."

Entwistle quit earlier this month after 54 days as director general. On top of his  £450,000 pay-off, his exit package included another £45,000 for bills for lawyers and communications advisers.

The deal included up to £10,000 for the legal advice. He also received a year’s Bupa private medical cover, legal expenses of up to £25,000 to help him give evidence to two inquiries into the Jimmy Savile affair, and £10,000 for public relations assistance to cope with the ‘considerable amount of door-stepping’ from reporters.

His pension pot will also provide him with an income of £48,000 a year.

The large sums of money being paid out to senior BBC executives has led to many people expressing outrage on social media, including threats to withhold payment to the licence fee in protest at perceived profligacy at the corporation.

And it has threatened to overshadow the appointment of Tony Hall as the new director general. Hall, already the recipient of an £82k BBC pension, is being paid a £450k salary as director general.

Tim Dams

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