James Robinson – Gaurdian.co.uk November 13, 2009
Mark Thompson salary package of £834,000 has become an uncomfortable political issue for the BBC director general, held up by the Tories as a potent symbol of the corporation's profligacy with public money. But it seems that for Thompson himself, even this generous sum may not be enough to cover the irritating little costs that go with the job.
According to documents released by the BBC today, Thompson recently claimed back £90 of parking meter charges on expenses, including one for just 70p.
The figures, released as part of the BBC's drive for greater financial transparency, revealed that top executives claimed nearly £175,000 of public money on expenses – ranging from top hotels to mountaineering gear to greeting cards – in the three months to the end of June this year.
Thompson (right) claimed a total of £3,364 during the period, including £647.50 for two nights at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, where the film Ocean's Eleven was shot. But he was not the only executive who may be left red-faced by the publication of the expenses.
Andy Parfitt, who receives an annual £218,000 pay package to run Radio 1, charged the corporation £541.83 for "specialist clothing" and "equipment" he bought before he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief in March.
The cards were bought by the BBC's controller of entertainment, Mark Linsey, who sent four "good luck" greetings to Comic Relief stars at a cost of £12.48.
The corporation's director of archive content, Roly Keating, who used to be controller of BBC2, lavished £1,265.55 on a room and unspecified "amenities" at the Hilton in Long Beach, California, where he was attending a design conference.
Perhaps they should be following the example set by Mark Byford, the deputy director general.
According to the documents, he claimed just £12.90 after lunching with Lionel Barber, the editor of the Financial Times, on 24 March.
Nearly 3,000 separate expenses claims made by the corporation's 107 top executives between April and June were posted on the BBC website. A total of £50,375 was spent on flights, £46,110.25 on taxis and a further £30,314.87 on entertaining.
The £16,678.34 hotel bill also includes a claim from Erik Huggers, director of future media and technology, who also stayed at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. His bill, which included an extra night at the nearby Westin Bellevue, came in at £1,170.
The BBC said it had gone beyond any other public body by publishing the data, which follows revelations in June about the amount spent by executives over the last five years.
Caroline Thomson, BBC chief operating officer, said it was "a direct response to the public who have indicated that they would like more information about how the BBC is run in a way which marks a step change in openness, simplicity and accountability". She herself claimed £4,011 on taxis between 23 March and 19 June, more than any other executive.
The shadow culture minister, Jeremy Hunt, welcome the move towards greater transparency but called on the BBC to go further. "They can't stop here," he said. "We must see a full breakdown of what the BBC pays their celebrity talent. It is licence fee payers' money and full transparency is a must."
Alan Yentob, the BBC's well-travelled creative director and presenter of arts programme Imagine, claimed £3,211 on flights from London to New York and notched up £1,835 for 23 cab rides, averaging £61 a ride. Mark Thompson stayed at the Bellagio to attend the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January, the BBC said. He also spent £731.10 on a return flight to Sweden in May.
Tim Davie, director of audio and music at the BBC, spent £790.63 on cabs in little over a month, running up the bill between 12 May and 19 June. His single largest expense was a team awayday dinner on 24 February, which totalled £750. Davie also spent £874.70 on two sets of return flights to Rome after he missed his first flight, although £347.10 was later reimbursed by the airline
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Last updated 19/11/2009