BBC chiefs claimed for champagne and jewels on expenses

Corporation releases documents revealing luxury gifts handed out by bosses

Silver bracelets, luxury soap, wedding presents and cashmere socks were just some of the gifts BBC executives have charged to taxpayers over the past three years, according to the latest expense sheets released by the organisation.

Under pressure from campaigners the Corporation has begun releasing details of executives' pay and expenses. Last month it was revealed that the BBC's board of executives had claimed £363,000 over the past five years, including more than £2,200 to fly the director general Mark Thompson back from a family holiday to deal with the "Sachsgate" scandal.

In the latest round of disclosures the BBC yesterday released expense claims for 30 of its top executives including the heads of all the major channels and radio stations.

Some of the stranger claims made over the past three years have come from Jay Hunt, the controller of BBC 1, who bought a series of gifts on expenses including a wedding present. According to the expense sheets released yesterday, the BBC 1 controller spent £59.95 on a "biscuit jar" as a wedding present, £48.95 on a pair of cashmere socks as a "gift for a leading supplier" and £94.60 for a "silver bangle with charm". She also spent more than £800 on 14 Molton Brown gift sets to give away as Christmas presents to business associates.

Another executive, meanwhile, spent almost £3,000 on flowers. Jane Tranter, who at the time was head of fiction at the BBC, charged the taxpayer £2,756.41 for flowers which she sent to 64 people between 2006 and 2008. A note states that they were purchased "to mark notable achievements in public service broadcasting across Drama, Film and Comedy".

The details released yesterday also provided an insight into the often hefty entertainment bills of some of the BBC's top executives. The highest single expense claim for entertaining came from Balraj Samra, the BBC's director of vision operations, who spent £2,875 in November 2006 on a meal "following negotiation Camelot/Lottery". Six months earlier Mr Samra, who earns between £280,000 and £310,000 according to salary details released by the BBC last month, also put in a claim for £827.02 for a dinner with Labour MP Tessa Jowell when she was Secretary of State for Culture. In addition, he claimed £20 for an eye test.

Andy Parfitt, the head of Radio 1, regularly put in expense claims for dinners which cost fee-payers more than £1,000. Known as "Parf Daddy" to the stations DJs, the Radio 1 controller held regular meetings with the station's top talent to "communicate strategy". Meanwhile Alan Yentob, the Corporation's creative director, charged fee payers £1,579.63 for an "executive Christmas dinner". A single taxi journey taken by Mr Parfitt in March 2008, meanwhile, cost fee payers £632.

Claims for wine and champagne also featured in a number of executives' expense claims. Roly Keating, a former BBC 2 controller, claimed for 35 bottles of champagne at an overall cost of more than £1,000.

Matthew Sinclair, research director at the TaxPayers' Alliance, accused the BBC of abusing public trust. "BBC executives appear to expect that their expenses claims should cover private celebrations and presents that do nothing to further the interests of licence fee payers," he said. "Ordinary families shouldn't be forced to subsidise gifts from overpaid BBC executives. The BBC's senior staff aren't accountable to the public for how they spend licence fee payers' money. If they can't be trusted to take that responsibility incredibly seriously there is no way they should keep getting a guaranteed income."

Caroline Thomson, the BBC's chief operating officer, who claimed £5,000 in expenses last year, including £1,300 on taxis, said the BBC was delivering a "step-change" to make the BBC "one of the most transparent and open public service organisations in Britain.

"Today's disclosure of expenses relates to business costs incurred doing the job," she added. "Clearly, as this is about spending public money, we are always careful to spend it wisely. However, like all global media organisations, senior leaders will inevitably incur expenses as part of carrying out their roles."

Aunty's expenses: The spoils of office

Jay Hunt, BBC1 controller

£94.60 silver bangle with charm

£43.45 cashmere and silk jumper

£59.95 biscuit jar wedding gift

£48.95 pair of cashmere socks as "gift for leading supplier"

£800 Molton Brown gift sets

Alan Yentob, BBC creative director

£1,579.63 claim for an "executive Christmas dinner" for "27 people"

£92.99 on "hospitality for Trevor Eve"

£157.73 on "dinner to discuss Nigella Lawson contract/progs"

Balraj Samra, director of vision operations

£827.02 Dinner with Tessa Jowell in May 2006£2,875 dinner following "negotiation Camelot/Lottery deal", November 2006.

£20 eyesight test

Andy Parfitt, BBC Radio 1 controller

£5,498 "communicating the Radio 1 strategy to its specialist presenters".

£49.50 for "catch up" lunch with Radio 1 DJ Colin Murray

£94.50 for "catch up" lunch with Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe £403.50 drinks at Brit Awards in February 2008

£632 taxi For 1Xtra Live Event, in Coventry 22 March 2008

Ben Stephenson, BBC drama chief

£309.50 on eight "Jo Malone candles", gift cards, bags and deliver

£49.50 on "books on TV drama history"

£78 on wine

£201.48 box of champagne

£103.88 on wine

£78.50 to upgrade to a first class train ticket because it was busy

Jane Tranter, BBC's head of fiction, now with BBC Worldwide

£2,756.41 on flowers

£102 on hamper for Bill Nighy

£149.95 on champagne for the cast of Casualty

£55 gift for Billie Piper

£39.90 gift for David Tennant

£1,201 on dinner for Bonekickers

Roly Keating, director of archive content, former controller of BBC 2

£1,000+ on 35 champagne bottles including 3 crates of 6 to give as gifts.

Mark Damazer, BBC Radio 4 controller

£119.53 dinner with a Sony gold-winning Today presenter

£475.03 supper with comedy talent

£510.47 Robert Robinson's 80th birthday

£1,233.20 on 35th birthday of Just A Minute

Bob Shennan, head of Radio 5 Live (now controller of Radio 2)

£10 in February 2007 for a taxi after he "got into the wrong minicab"

Danny Cohen, BBC 3 controller,

£75 on breakfast muffins as a "thank you gift to [a] very hard working production team".

£300 on eight bouquets of flowers

£26.97 to purchase a box set of the first series of Skins – a series he commissioned when he was at E4.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions