BBC chief under pressure over expenses
BBC director general Mark Thompson has been accused of presiding over a ‘lavish culture’ after expenses claims were released
BBC director general Mark Thompson is under pressure once again after the corporation was forced to reveal the salaries and expenses claims of its top brass.
Among the revelations are five years of expenses claims for senior executives worth more than £350,000, with almost £78,000 of that accounted for by Thompson himself. His claims include £2,500 for cancelling a family holiday to deal with the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand affair.
Ironically, it is those who were so incensed by the antics of Ross and Brand that Thompson had to return to work that are now up in arms over the fact that he claimed the cost of the curtailment.
The Daily Mail reports that Thompson and other executives have enjoyed the corporation's "lavish culture" and are "reaping the benefits of inflation-busting expenses claims".
It describes Thompson as the BBC's "expenses king" and sniffily remarks that "he claimed more than £2,000 last year to fly his family back early from a holiday in Italy to deal with the Andrew Sachs scandal involving Jonathan Ross."
It reports him as saying: "I took the car, drove 150 miles to the airport, abandoning my family without a car in a hotel in Sicily. I think, rather understandably, they felt that, given the circumstances, they should come back too."
Thompson, it has emerged, also spent £100 on a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvee champagne given to Strictly Come Dancing host Bruce Forsyth on his 80th birthday and claimed for flowers for June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton in EastEnders.
In 2004 when he was forced to cancel another holiday he claimed £1,277 to charter a plane to return from the US and it has been revealed that he charged the BBC £982 for drinks and other expenses during ‘familiarisation’ sessions before he joined the corporation.
The documents, published under Freedom of Information requests, show that as many as 47 executives at the BBC earn more than the Prime Minister, who has a salary of £194,000 and that execs claimed a total of £364,000 in expenses since 2004.
Despite Thompson's assertion that the claims were "reasonable and justified" critics have rounded on the perceived excesses at a time when the BBC is looking for ways to save £2bn by 2013. He has also been lambasted for refusing calls to reveal what the Beeb's top individual performers earn. ·
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