11/09/2018 13:56 BST | Updated 11/09/2018 14:26 BST

Pay Revelation 'A Factor' In Chris Evans' Decision To Leave BBC, Says Director General

The presenter was named the top-earning BBC star in 2017, and second-highest in 2018.

Chris Evans was motivated to leave the BBC following the publication of his annual salary, the broadcaster’s director general has said.

Last week, Chris announced on the Radio 2 breakfast show that he was jumping ship to Virgin Radio after 13 years at the station, with his final broadcast on the BBC coming at the end of the year.

BBC director general Tony Hall has now claimed that his decision to leave was motivated by his salary being made public for the past two years.

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Chris Evans

“In the case of Eddie [Mair, who is also leaving the BBC] and Chris, you really need to ask them,” Tony told a parliamentary select committee (via BBC News). “But undoubtedly, disclosure has been a factor in their decision to leave.”

He added: “We have to recognise we’re not going to attract people at the kind of mega sums others in the commercial sphere might be able to pay.”

As part of a new government initiative, the BBC is now required to release the salaries of any of its employees earning more than £150,000 a year, which they did for the first time in 2017.

That year, Chris was revealed to be the top-earning broadcaster at the BBC, while 12 months later, he occupied the number two spot, behind ‘Match Of The Day’ host Gary Lineker.

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Gary Lineker is the BBC's highest-earning star

Chris previously said of his decision to leave the BBC: “As Sir Terry said before me, there’s never a right time to leave something you love but there might be a wrong time if you hang on too long.

“I honestly think The Breakfast Show is currently as positive, useful, sunny and inclusive as it has ever been. In fine shape for its next custodian. Whoever that turns out to be, I wish them all the very best, they are in for an absolute blast.”

Virgin boss Richard Branson has also spoken out to dismiss the idea that Chris’ decision was motivated by a pay increase, insisting he was attracted to “freedom, not salary”.