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Politicians Push BBC Boss to Return Extra Pension Payment He Received Years Ago

Tony Hall – P 2013
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Tony Hall

Tony Hall got $38,000 beyond his guaranteed payment when he left the U.K. public broadcaster to run the Royal Opera House.

LONDON -- BBC boss Tony Hall late Friday came under some political pressure to return an extra payment he received when he left the U.K. public broadcaster years ago.

Hall has worked to address and reduce excessive severance payments, but the Guardian reported that he had himself received a boost to his guaranteed pension when he left the BBC 12 years ago to run the Royal Opera House.

The newspaper reported that he received about $38,000 (£24,500) in extra pay on top of his contractually guaranteed payout.

Members of the public accounts committee of the British parliament's House of Commons told the Guardian that they want Hall to pay back that amount.

The issue is also expected to be discussed Monday when former BBC boss Mark Thompson and BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten appear in front of the parliamentary committee for a hearing on excessive severance payments.

"Those who have benefited from the previous regime, including Lord Hall, should consider repaying these extra payments given that it is public money," the Guardian quoted committee member Ian Swales as saying.

Another member, Stephen Barclay, said: "It shows that Hall himself has benefited from the very culture he has pledged to reform and is another example of a common practice of executives signing off generous payoffs that they would benefit from in the future."

Hall recently announced a cap on severance payments.

A spokesperson for the BBC said the extra payment was properly declared and reported at the time.

The Guardian late Friday also reported that the parliamentary committee has ordered the BBC to disclose the details of 150 severance packages and the names of former executives who received them after at least some were found to have been excessive.

The BBC has cited confidentiality issues in refusing to disclose the information in the past.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai