THE BBC’s former director general is expected to be quizzed by MPs next week about the huge payout a Donegal man, among others, received when leaving the broadcaster.
Patrick Loughrey, 57 from Co. Donegal was given an £866,000 redundancy settlement by the corporation, including 12 months’ pay ‘in lieu of notice’ despite claims he agreed his leaving date 14 months previously and worked out his notice.
His is one of several cases said to violate company policy in a damning report published into the so-called golden handshakes given by the BBC to senior managers.
Now, as former director general Mark Thompson prepares to be grilled by the Public Accounts Committee, a spokesperson for the committee told The Irish Post Mr Thompson “is likely to be questioned about the significant severance packages that he approved while in office”.
Mr Loughrey’s settlement was reached after “numerous” conversations with Mr Thompson, who also approved it, the report by the Government’s public spending watchdog says.
The Donegal man, who is referred to in the report as “Case study 1” and was the BBC’s Director of Nations and Regions before departing in 2009, says his severance payments were “made in fulfilment of longstanding entitlements” and “approved at the highest level”.
The National Audit Office report states that the £300,000 Mr Loughrey was given in lieu of notice as one part of his settlement was “inconsistent” with BBC policy and criticised Mr Thompson for approving it.
“This case provides an example of a departing senior manager receiving their maximum pay in lieu of notice (£300,000), despite the fact that they worked their notice,” it added.
Mr Loughrey, who is now the Warden of London’s Goldsmiths University, secured a further £300,000 in redundancy payment and £266,288 “pension augmentation” as part of his “early retirement”.
Mr Loughrey declined to respond to The Irish Post and instead re-issued an earlier statement.
“As you will be aware from the National Audit Office Report, certain staff names were anonymised by the BBC in order to comply with data protection law,” it stated.
“You will also know from the report that there are clauses in their employment contracts which prohibit those individuals from disclosing details about their severance payments.
“Given this, I consider I am unable to respond to the specific questions you have raised.
“I would however like to make clear that any severance payments I received when I left the BBC after many years’ service were made in fulfilment of longstanding contractual entitlements and approved at the highest level.”