The news that outgoing BBC Director General George Entwistle is to pocket a whopping £450,000 pay-out will shock and appal taxpayers everywhere. Mr Entwistle was in his job for just 54 days, meaning that for every day he served, he’ll receive an incredible £8,333. The pay-off is on top of the £877,000 pension pot to which Mr Entwistle is also entitled.
Given that his brief tenure was marked by a series of catastrophic errors, most taxpayers will be left scratching their heads as to why the ex-Director General will be enjoying such a massive payday. The fact is that Mr Entwistle’s brief time at the helm of the BBC saw the corporation lurch from one crisis to another and it is ridiculous that failure should be so generously rewarded.
The BBC’s decision to award the payment is particularly egregious given the outcry that accompanied their awarding Greg Dyke a similarly massive payment of £488,416 when he resigned in the wake of the events that led to the Hutton Inquiry. The BBC’s culture of rewarding incompetence with extravagant pay-offs cannot continue at a time when taxpayers are tightening their belts.
The news has been rightly attacked across the political spectrum. Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman described the pay off as a ‘reward for failure’, while Tory MP John Whittingdale, who chairs the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, summed up the views of many taxpayers when he asked: ‘How can somebody who has had to leave in these circumstances, as a result of a serious failure, nevertheless get a whole year’s salary?’ Those at the BBC responsible for this decision must understand that it will be unfathomable to the public and will harm their efforts to rebuild lost trust.
The BBC Trust is supposed to be looking out for licence fee payers’ interests and ensuring their money is not misspent. As far as this sorry saga goes, it has monumentally failed to do so.
It is especially disappointing that Mr Entwistle is set to take this mammoth pay-off when the early signs were so good about his understanding of the need to be careful when spending other people’s money. Indeed, when he took on the job on a salary 40 per cent lower than his predecessor and dumped his chauffeur-driven car in favour of using the tube, the TaxPayers’ Alliance made him our Pin-Up of the Month.