Isaacs gets long run for his money at the opera

Sir Jeremy Isaacs, who left his post as general director of the Royal Opera House in January, is still being paid his pounds 120,000 a year salary out of public funds.

A monthly salary cheque of around pounds 10,000 will continue to be paid to Sir Jeremy until September under the terms of his contract with the opera house.

The payments to Sir Jeremy are certain to be raised tomorrow by MPs when they quiz him at a select committee investigating the Royal Opera House

Ironically, Sir Jeremy's successor Genista McIntosh, who departed in May due to ill health, after five months in the post, is being paid her salary for her three-month notice period. So the Royal Opera House is paying two heads of the institution, neither of whom is in post.

To add to the irony, Mary Allen, who was appointed to take over from Ms McIntosh as chief executive in June, is not being paid anything. She has been advised by Lord Chadlington, chairman of the opera house board, not to start drawing salary until September as a suitable gap had to pass between her starting at the opera house and leaving her position as secretary general of the Arts Council, which gave the opera house pounds 78m of National Lottery money.

Since January Sir Jeremy has formed his own television production company and has been employed by Ted Turner, the American television millionaire, to make a series on the Cold War. Mr Turner has also paid Sir Jeremy a fee for his work, also understood to be well over pounds 100,000.

All Royal Opera House contracts have now been changed by Lord Chadlington so that no one can again receive salary nearly nine months after they have left. Sir Jeremy's was the last of the fixed term contracts.

Sir Jeremy said last night: "I had a contract until the end of September and it is being paid out. If you pay a chap out and bring someone else in then there's bound to be an overlap."

Leading article, page 13

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