Mark Byford speaks out about payoff

Mark Byford Byford said his payout did not amount to greed

Mark Byford has spoken out for the first time about his controversial £949,000 payoff, saying that he merely took what the BBC 'properly approved'.

The former deputy director general told Radio 5 live's Victoria Derbyshire: 'I absolutely don't think it was greed on my part at all; I lost my job.'

Byford left the BBC in 2011 after 32 years when his post closed as part of a wider drive to reduce senior managers by 25%. He was given half a million more than he was contractually entitled to under the terms of his contract.

His payout was one of those scrutinised by the National Audit Office in a report released in July. The report found that the BBC paid out £25m to 150 outgoing senior managers, £2m more than stipulated in their contracts. Byford's payout was the largest of these.

Asked several times if he would consider giving any of the money back, Byford refused to answer the question with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. Instead he told Derbyshire: 'I've done no wrong.'

Byford was on Derbyshire's Radio 5 live programme to talk about his new book about soldiers in Vietnam and World War II, but conversation soon turned to his BBC career and his payout.

The presenter asked if Byford believed he deserved £1m. He said, 'Well, it was the terms the BBC said I should have in the context of losing my job.'

He later added: 'I was given what I was given and agreed to do what the BBC wanted.'

Pressed on whether he ever thought his large payout could damage the BBC, Byford conceded 'it was a lot of money' but that it had been agreed under 'terms the BBC felt were right'.

'I didn't want to go, I loved my job, but I absolutely understood that if it [redundancy] touched me I would accept it,' Byford added.

The former deputy director general also confirmed he had never heard any rumours about Jimmy Savile, despite having joined the BBC in Leeds - Savile's home city - in 1979. 'I never heard any of those rumours, anecdotes or claims,' he said, but he admitted it was a 'horrific moment' for the BBC.

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