BBC salary mole outed as 23-year-old temp

THE BBC mole who brought embarrassment to the corporation by leaking the huge salaries of its star presenters was yesterday unmasked as a temporary office worker.

Sam Walton, 23, was dismissed after being confronted by the job agency which sent him to the BBC.

He admitted receiving more than 1,000 for revealing corporation salary details, but claimed that he was not responsible for some of the figures quoted in the media.

Mr Walton was able to access presenter salary details while working on a three-month contract at the BBC's rights and business affairs department. The BBC was left defending its use of public money after newspapers published a raft of alleged pay deals for stars, including 800,000 a year for Terry Wogan and 530,000 to Jonathan Ross.

The BBC said it had taken the unusual step of naming Mr Walton, whose contract ended in April, to clear other staff.

Mr Walton had worked for the corporation on previous occasions as a researcher on Top of the Pops and also on a BBC2 spin-off of the popular Strictly Come Dancing show.

A BBC insider said Mr Walton was confronted by his agency on Monday with details provided by the corporation's internal investigations department, which includes former police officers.

A source said the temp had "provided information to order".

Mr Walton, a psychology graduate, took up his post as a casual worker in February and a run of damaging headlines began the following month. The leaks also extended to the BBC's television talent, with the veteran game-show host Bruce Forsyth, 78, reported as being paid 415,000 for a ten-week run of BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing while Anne Robinson, the presenter of BBC2's quiz show The Weakest Link, was said to be pocketing 12,000 per show.

The naming of the mole marks a period of damaging publicity for the BBC as it lobbies for a rise in the licence fee, potentially taking the cost to 180 a year by 2014.

The BBC launched an inquiry while refusing to comment on the accuracy of the leaked figures. However, the BBC's director-general proved unapologetic over the pay of its top presenters in a recent speech to the Royal Television Society.

Speaking at the end of April, Mark Thompson said: "The public want the best from the BBC and, particularly in entertainment, where outstanding on-screen and on-air talent is a scarce resource, that can mean paying individuals a lot of money - that's simply the reality of the creative market and I make no apology for it."

• BBC Scotland services were disrupted yesterday morning following a fire alarm and evacuation. Good Morning Scotland went off air for 20 minutes and Reporting Scotland was unable to broadcast its 8:27am bulletin.

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