BBC calls in auditors to examine managers’ pay-offs

More BBC pay-offs will be examined closely after auditors were called back into the corporation a month after a report uncovered hundreds of thousands of pounds was given to executives who were not entitled to the money.

BBC director general Tony Hall said the National Audit Office (NAO), which published last month’s report, was “now back at the BBC looking at the outstanding severance payments made during the three year period to the end of 2012”.

The NAO report found the BBC spent £25m on severance payments for 150 high-ranking staff in a three-year period up to December and had made payments totalling £60m to 401 senior managers since 2005.

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In almost a quarter of the individual cases reviewed by the NAO, the BBC paid out more than the staff were entitled to under their contracts.

In an email to staff, Mr Hall said: “In addition, we have asked our auditors KPMG to review other cases in recent years where guidelines may have been breached. Their reports will be published and shared with bodies like the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee next month.”

The KPMG review could include pay-offs to executives made before the period covered by the NAO.

Mr Hall has already asked for a ‘’detailed briefing’’ after reports the former controller of BBC1 got a £500,000 pay off when he left the corporation in the wake of a scandal sparked by misleading footage of the Queen.

Peter Fincham, who is now director of television at ITV, quit in 2007 after an independent inquiry revealed a catalogue of ‘’misjudgments, poor practice and ineffective systems’’ at the corporation.

It was also recently reported that former Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas was given a six-figure payoff after she resigned in 2008 in the wake of the Sachsgate scandal when Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left obscene voicemail messages for actor Andrew Sachs.

Mr Hall said the BBC “had not had any approaches from the police on this matter” after reports fraud squad officers were assessing whether to investigate allegations of misconduct in public office and fraud.