UK

BBC Trust Takes Legal Advice Over George Entwistle Pay-Off

06/03/2013 20:41 GMT | Updated 06/03/2013 20:43 GMT

The BBC has taken legal advice to establish whether it has any financial claims against former director-general George Entwistle.

Tory MP Rob Wilson had written to BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten asking whether it would be able to claw back any of the £450,000 pay-off Mr Entwistle after he corrected his evidence to the Pollard inquiry sparked by the Jimmy Savile crisis.

Entwistle, who lasted just 54 days as director-general, has corrected the evidence he gave to the Pollard Review because it contained an inaccuracy about when he was made aware of an ITV documentary which made claims about Savile's sexual abuse.

A BBC Trust spokeswoman said: "The Trust has already asked its legal advisers to consider whether it may have any claims against Mr Entwistle arising out of the correction to his evidence and we await their advice.

"It is right we should ask that question, but of course, to ask the question does not imply that we believe we necessarily have grounds for a claim. We will be responding to Rob Wilson to clarify this point."

There was widespread criticism about the size of the payout which was far greater than he had been strictly entitled, but had been agreed to ensure a swift, clean break.

Wilson said: "One of the main justifications given for the payoff by the BBC's governing body was to ensure Mr Entwistle's cooperation with the Savile inquiries.

"Now that George Entwistle has been forced to admit having misled one of those inquiries, we will see how effective the 'safeguards' the BBC claimed to have secured as part of the payoff agreement really are."

Mr Entwistle has now said he was made aware of the ITV film ten days earlier than he told Pollard in an amendment to his evidence.