Scotland Yard Won't Investigate BBC Severance Payments

Mark Thompson, former BBC director general, current CEO of the New York Times Company

Some called for a fraud probe of payouts that exceeded contractual promises, but the London police says there was "insufficient evidence of dishonesty or criminal misconduct."

LONDON – The London police department, known here as Scotland Yard, said on Friday that it will not investigate severance payments to former BBC top executives that exceeded contractual promises.

It cited "insufficient evidence of dishonesty or criminal misconduct."

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As previously reported, representatives of the police department had looked into whether to launch a probe on possible charges of misconduct in public office and fraud. Fraud squad officers collected information to help them make a decision on a possible investigation.

A Conservative Party member and member of parliament had called for an inquiry after a recent report by Britain's financial watchdog, the National Audit Office, highlighted cases in which BBC severance payouts went beyond the guarantees of employment contracts. It found several cases, in which such payments were approved at high levels, including by former director general Mark Thompson, now CEO of the New York Times Co.

The BBC is conducting its own review of the payouts.

"The metropolitan police service received allegations of misconduct in a public office and fraud in relation to severance payments and wide benefits for senior BBC managers," Scotland Yard said in its statement on Friday. "These allegations have been carefully assessed by officers from the fraud squad, specialist, organized and economic crime command. The assessment, of available material, has concluded there is insufficient evidence of dishonesty or criminal misconduct to begin a criminal investigation."

The police department added that it "will not be taking any further action."

Twitter: @georgszalai