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Bernard Madoff Full reports on the sentencing telegraph.co.uk/madoff
July 1 - 7, 2009
By Andrew Pierce and Anita Singh
MARK THOMPSON, the director-general of the BBC, faced calls last week to cut salaries and expenses of the corporation’s senior executives.
The broadcaster’s 50 highest-paid executives earned up to £13.6million last year, with over half paid considerably more than the Prime Minister. The BBC had
hoped that by publishing the salaries in the aftermath of the disclosures over MPs’ expenses, it would demonstrate it was being cautious with licence-payers’ money.
However, the disclosure that 47 of the leading 50 are in salary brackets that range from £190,000 to more than £600,000 triggered an angry reaction from MPs and trade unions. Gordon Brown earns
£194,250. The broadcasting unions, who have agreed to more than 2,000 redundancies at the BBC in the past two years, were enraged by the pay figures.
Although the corporation agreed to publish executives’ salaries, it again refused to disclose the multi-millionpound deals of the biggest stars, such as Jonathan Ross.
John Whittingdale, the Tory chairman of the Commons
culture committee, led the criticism. He said the BBC could no longer justify the sums it paid to executives.
“One of the reasons why it was important that this information about salaries was made public is that there is increasing concern that the BBC is not paying market rates,” he said.
“They are far in excess of what any commercial broadcaster could afford.”
Making a meal of it: BBC chiefs hosted a dinner at the Bellagio
By Martin Beckford
BBC EXECUTIVES spent more than £2,000 of public money at the Las Vegas hotel featured in the film Ocean’s Eleven as part of the corporation’s £45million
annual bill for travel and accommodation.
Expenses files published by the state broadcaster show that 29 members of staff enjoyed a £1,430.88 dinner, courtesy of the licence fee-payer at the Bellagio, which boasts of
having the “most luxurious accommodation” in the resort.
The BBC’s former director of future media and technology, Ashley Highfield, put through the claim on a single invoice in April 2008, along with £102.87 on a room
and breakfast. In 2006, Mr Highfield spent £1,470.57 at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, which has its own canal and gondola rides, while attending the Consumer Electronics Show.
Earlier this year his
successor, Erik Huggers, claimed £722.06 for two nights’ stay at the Bellagio, which is famous for its fountain displays. During his trip to Las Vegas, Mr Huggers claimed £1,624.48 for two days’ hire of a driver and car.
Separate documents released by the BBC last week following Freedom of Information requests show that its staff spent a total of £12.9million on hotels in nine months between April and December 2007.
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They just don’t get it
A PLOT to oust Gordon Brown ended in failure as the Prime Minister’s allies were accused of using scare tactics and smears to terrorise Labour MPs and quell the rebellion.
Despite Labour’s worst showing in an election for almost 100 years, Mr Brown was able to face down his critics at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) – with the rebels having failed to get the 50 signatories they wanted for a letter calling on him to quit.
A series of MPs, including former ministers, confronted the Prime Minister and told him to stand aside, but Mr Brown insisted again he would not be “walking away” and the meeting ended with him having won a stay of execution.
However, those Labour MPs opposed to Mr Brown’s leadership accused Downing Street of using smears, anonymous briefings,
intimidation and threats to put down the coup.
Some MPs in marginal seats said they had been threatened with a withdrawal of support for their election campaigns if they spoke out against Mr Brown. Some said they were told that ministerial visits and other PR opportunities could be withheld.
With only 15 per cent of voters having backed Labour in the European elections, the party’s MPs were told by the Prime Minister’s allies that there would be an immediate general election – with potentially catastrophic results – if they replaced him as leader.
However, Mr Brown’s opponents claim that allowing him to limp on will mean electoral oblivion if the European results are reproduced at the next general election.
Frank Field, the former Labour minister, suggested Mr Brown’s aides had tried to
Continued on Page 2
‘Apparently, the Government has only enough swine flu medicine
for half the population’
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