THE BBC faced anger over the size of departed director-general George Entwistle’s payoff yesterday, as culture secretary Maria Miller raised the possibility of the National Audit Office (NAO) investigating the £450,000 package.
“The NAO is empowered to conduct a value-for-money review,” Miller told the House of Commons yesterday. “In this day and age people expect all public institutions to be open to the widest possible scrutiny,” she added. “It is of course for Mr Entwistle himself to decide whether it is appropriate to keep those payments.”
The NAO said it would question the BBC Trust over the payoff, but did not confirm it would be conducting a formal review. An NAO spokesperson denied that Miller had encouraged the independent office to look into the matter, saying it had only been notified that she would raise the issue shortly before Miller addressed MPs.
In an earlier statement regarding Entwistle’s leaving package, Miller said: “This is a large amount of money, and tough to justify considering the circumstances of Mr Entwistle’s departure and his contractual arrangements. The Trust will need to justify this.” Her comments echoed the views of David Cameron, a Downing Street spokesperson said.
The BBC was yesterday criticised by its own internal probe into the Newsnight episode on child abuse that sparked Entwistle’s departure on Saturday.
The inquiry found that “basic journalistic checks were not completed” before the screening of the controversial documentary, and found evidence of “unacceptable” editorial failings.
Acting director-general Tim Davie vowed yesterday to “get a grip” on the corporation.
Helen Boaden, the BBC’s director of news, and her deputy Stephen Mitchell temporarily left while an internal review is conducted into why current affairs programme Newsnight did not screen an investigation into child abuse allegations surrounding former BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.