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New BBC boss in crisis repair bid
4:03am Monday 12th November 2012 in © Press Association 2014
The acting director general of the BBC is to set out his plans for rebuilding trust in the corporation in the wake of the botched Newsnight child abuse investigation.
Tim Davie held his first meeting last night with the BBC Trust since being drafted in as a stand-in replacement for George Entwistle, who dramatically announced his resignation on Saturday.
It came as a row erupted over the disclosure that Mr Entwistle - who served just 54 days in the post - was to receive a full year's salary of £450,000 in lieu of notice.
Under the terms of the his contract he was entitled to only six months' pay, but the trust said that the additional payment had been agreed as a reflection of his continuing involvement with the various BBC inquiries now under way.
The move was greeted with anger and disbelief by MPs. The chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, John Whittingdale, said the trust had to explain how it could justify such a large pay-off.
"A lot of people will be very surprised that somebody who was in the job for such a short period of time and then had to leave in these circumstances should be walking away with £450,000 of licence fee payers' money," he said.
"Certainly I would want to know from the trust why they think that's appropriate. I find it very difficult to see a justification for that amount of money to be paid to somebody who has had to resign in these circumstances. I wouldn't have thought that just because you have to help an inquiry into the Savile allegations you necessarily need to be paid a such a large amount of money."
Harriet Harman MP, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, added: "It is not justifiable for the BBC to pay double the contractually required sum to the director general on his resignation. It looks like a reward for failure. George Entwistle should decline to accept any more than is required under his contract. This is not the way to restore public confidence in the BBC."
Within the BBC, staff were braced for further bloodletting in the wake of Mr Entwistle's departure.
Mr Davie received a report which Mr Entwistle had commissioned from BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into how Newsnight came to wrongly implicate former Tory Party treasurer Lord McAlpine in the north Wales children's home scandal of the 1970s and 1980s. The future of Newsnight also appeared to be in the balance, with the chairman of the BBC Trust Lord Patten warning that there would have to be some "tough managerial decisions".