Newspaper review: BBC pay-offs 'scandal' resurfaces


Excessive pay-offs made by the BBC to outgoing executives hit the headlines again, after seven past and present bosses appeared before MPs.

The Guardian believes "the BBC was the loser" after the Public Accounts Committee hearing on Monday, at which senior figures were called to account over the pay-offs.

The Daily Mail says the "often acrimonious session" was "punctuated by allegations of cronyism and lying", while the Sun describes the evidence as "jaw-dropping".

'Mafia trial'

The parliamentary sketch-writers have a field day with what Donald Macintyre, in the Independent, says at times looked like a "joint mafia trial".

Quentin Letts, writing in the Mail, says the "guardians of the airwaves" were "clawing at each other like polecats in a water butt" as they tried to blame each other for the redundancy packages.

The Daily Telegraph's Michael Deacon says it was like a scene from the boardroom of the Apprentice.

In the Times, Ann Treneman reckons that "if you put these seven together, their salaries would probably stretch to the Moon - yet their collective common sense would not even make it to Pinner".

The Financial Times says the "scandal" goes to show that the BBC Trust is "not up to the job" of overseeing the corporation's activities.

The Mail agrees that it should be replaced - "but not, God forbid, by that nest of politically correct Blairites, Ofcom".

It favours an independent board of governors - with private-sector experience - to restore political balance and sound business practices.

'Cloud-cuckoo land'

Meanwhile, George Osborne's insistence that the British economy is "turning a corner" leaves the Daily Mirror fuming.

The paper says the chancellor "lives in cloud-cuckoo land" if he really believes his "ludicrous spin".

David Blanchflower - a former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee - tells the Mirror that Mr Osborne is "the guy who crashed your car - and then wants you to thank him for having the wreck towed home".

The Independent, too, is far from convinced by the chancellor's analysis - cautioning that recent improvements in economic data are "from a very low base".

But the Daily Express believes Mr Osborne deserves praise for showing "stoicism and stamina in the face of intense criticism".

And the Mail says no one should begrudge him a "glow of quiet satisfaction".

But the newspaper also detects a "note of triumphalism" in the chancellor's words which it believes he would do well to avoid.

Beyond south-east England, it says, there are "swathes of the country where recovery remains a distant dream".

'Bolstered standing'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, writing in the Telegraph, accuses family doctors of failing elderly patients.

Mr Hunt wants a fundamental change in the work of GPs, so they supervise the treatment of older patients when they go into hospital or care homes.

The Telegraph says his remarks are part of a strategy of championing patients' interests that has bolstered Mr Hunt's standing among Conservative colleagues.

But the paper warns his intervention may lead to conflict with doctors' groups.

'Morally contemptible'

There is considerable anger at comments made on Monday by former Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne, who was jailed for getting his then-wife Vicky Pryce to accept his speeding points.

In an article in the Guardian - and an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme - he blamed his downfall on Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, which he accused of targeting him because he had spoken out against phone hacking.

"A more self-delusional and morally contemptible article would be hard to imagine," says the Telegraph, while the Mail - beneath the headline "Huhne the fantasist" - accuses him of "nauseating self-pity".

Writing in the Sun, Rod Liddle says that "just when you thought he couldn't sink any lower, he puts on his diving suit and plummets another 5,000 fathoms".

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites