Ex-BBC chief Roly Keating gives back £375k pay-off

Roly Keating: Returned �375,000 pay-off. Picture: PA
Roly Keating: Returned �375,000 pay-off. Picture: PA
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Former BBC executive Roly Keating returned a pay-off from the corporation after he found out the £375,000 payment had not been properly authorised.

• Roly Keating returned pay-off from £375,000 after learning sum had not been “fully and appropriately authorised”

• Keating reveals gesture is “matter of principle” in letter to former employer

Former BBC executive Roly Keating returned a pay-off from the corporation after he found out the £375,000 payment had not been properly authorised.

The ex-BBC2 controller was given the money after he had told BBC chiefs he was considering a new job as chief executive at the British Library, a post he now holds.

But after learning the decision to award the money was described as “seriously deficient” by the National Audit Office, he has returned the money.

Mr Keating wrote a letter to director-general Tony Hall and enclosed a cheque saying he wanted to give it back “as a matter of principle”.

His case was highlighted today in a report by the NAO into severance payments to senior staff.

In his letter Mr Keating, who worked for the BBC for 29 years, wrote: “You will understand that as a matter of principle I would never wish to benefit from a payment that could not be demonstrated to have been fully and appropriately authorised.

“I therefore enclose with this letter a cheque payable to the BBC, amounting to the full sum I received as severance payment after tax was deducted by the BBC at source.”

He was given the money even though his post was not being made redundant. He was awarded a “termination payment” of £250,000 and six months’ pay in lieu of notice of £125,000.

Mr Keating’s new role at the library has a salary of £150,000.

The BBC agreed to pay the money “on the grounds that it believed the individual would not otherwise have accepted the job offer, which had a lower salary”, according to today’s report.

A “compromise agreement” was signed by Mr Keating and the BBC and a finance case was prepared for the payment which stated that the deal had been agreed by the then-director general Mark Thompson and BBC human resources director Lucy Adams.

But according to the NAO report, both executives “now accept that there was no such agreement and that the finance case is wrong on this point”.

In his letter Mr Keating said of the compromise agreement: “I entered into and signed this agreement in the belief that the BBC had proposed it in good faith and for good reasons, and that it had been properly sanctioned and authorised.”

Although Mr Keating was not named in the report, he said he wished his letter be made public because he would be identifiable.

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