Former BBC exec returns £375k pay-off


A former BBC executive has returned a £375,000 pay-off to the corporation in a refreshing move of honesty.

Roly Keating (pictured), former director of archive content at the BBC, voluntarily returned the sum following a parliamentary investigation into severance payments.

Mr Keating received the sum when he left the broadcaster in 2012 after a 29-year career to become chief executive of the British Library.

His £375,000 payoff was one of a number of big-money severance packages to be studied by the National Audit Office. In a report released on Monday, the NAO said the BBC had "breached its own already generous policies on severance payments too often and without good reason."

Pay-off package
The NAO reports that Mr Keating, former controller of BBC2 and BBC4, left his £250,000-a-year job for a less well-paid one at the British Library, which pays about £150,000, at a time when the BBC was making a number of redundancies and the future of his role was uncertain.

The corporation decided to negotiate and sign a compromise £375,000 agreement "on the grounds that it believed the individual would not otherwise have accepted the job offer, which had a lower salary".

It included a £250,000 termination payment, equal to 12 months' salary, and a further six months' salary at £125,000, pay in lieu of notice. He was also paid £1,000 legal fees.

Not agreed
The NAO investigation found that the then director general Mark Thompson and the BBC's director of human resources Lucy Adams had not both agreed to the details of Keating's payoff as was previously claimed.

Last month, when Keating was informed of this, he wrote a letter to Lord Hall of Birkenhead, director general of the BBC, complete with a cheque for £187,500 - the sum he received after tax.

According to the Telegraph, Mr Keating wrote: "You will understand that as a matter of principle I would never wish to benefit from a payment that could not be demonstrated to have been fully and appropriately authorised."

"I therefore enclose with this letter a cheque payable to the BBC, amounting to the full sum I received as severance payment after tax was deducted by the BBC at source."

The Guardian reports that the honest move is typical of Mr Keating, with his friends describing him as an "honorable person."

Generous pay-offs
The BBC has been under fire for the generous severance payments and benefits paid out to senior manager for some time.

The NAO investigation found that the BBC paid out £60 million in severance payments to its senior managers in the eight years between April 2005 and the end of March this year. Of this sum, £25 million went on severance payments for 150 high level staff in the three years to the end of December.

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