Monday, September 09, 2013

Never Trust a Man with a Beard


They shuffled in like the losing line-up in the latest round of Britain's not-got-very-much Talent on their way to see Simon Cowell.

Instead, they found he'd sent Sharon Osborne in his place - masquerading as Margaret Hodge, Chairman of the equally entertaining Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons.

They were there to answer one simple question: why had they agreed to pay one redundant BBC executive £1m to go away - the same sum it would take an ordinary worker 40 years to earn - when they could have got shot of him for a measly £500,000.

Actually, it was not quite that simple since quite a few other BBC bosses had apparently boarded the bus to the real world with shoulder bags stuffed with pound notes they weren't due.

Trying to find out how it happened has exercised the PAC for the past few months to the delight and enjoyment of the Beeb's many enemies who found further pleasure over the summer as panjandrums fought to pin the tail of blame on somebody else's backside. And so, they were all summoned to the Commons yesterday to fight it out in public in a real demonstration of the Corporation's commitment to inform, educate and entertain.

Chief suspect, Mark Thompson, former Director General but one - the hapless, but well paid off George Entwhistle - was there from the United States charged with not telling other bosses about the pay-offs. Also present, was a selection of other bosses variously charged with keeping their eyes, ears or mouths shut.

Bearded Mark, was first up in the dock and Sharon was at him with all the pleasure of someone who had read Margaret Thatcher's warning of never trusting men with facial hair. Having got Mark, who used to trouser £800,000 as DG, to admit that the £1m pay-off to his deputy Mark Byford, might have been "overlarge" she then unnerved him by asking why half a million "mega bucks" would not have been enough.

Ears shining brightly enough to illuminate the room, he stammered his way through the next few insults pretending to be questions before his interrogator turned her attention to the only woman summoned to the hearing.

"I'm not having any more lies this afternoon," was the Hodge welcome to Lucy Adams, outgoing head of HR at the Beeb. Lucy handed in her notice after her last mauling at the hands of the PAC after having to write to them explaining various memory lapses when last giving evidence. She wisely wore black for this final appearance and will be leaving the Corporation - without a pay off - as fast as she can write her own departure letter to herself.

Lord Patten, the man responsible for the Entwhistle Experience also made an appearance denying he knew anything, thereby confirming what many people think about him anyway and rubbed his hands in the self-satisfied way of someone still Chairman of the BBC and Chancellor of Oxford University.

Various other men with white hair also spoke to confirm they had all been out at the time and so after two and a half hours went back to their various clubs leaving the PAC - and the nation - none the wiser.