ITV boss Peter Fincham refuses to be drawn on £500,000 BBC pay-off

 

Peter Fincham, ITV’s director of television, today declined to say whether he would be returning the £500,000 pay off he received on resigning from the BBC and said that ITV’s sensational expose of Jimmy Savile last year “was not a programme about the BBC”.

The controversial payment to the former BBC1 Controller, who resigned in 2007 over the Crowngate faked footage scandal, is being examined by the new BBC Director General Tony Hall and the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

Under questioning from the BBC radio presenter Martha Kearney at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Mr Fincham refused to say whether he would follow the example of his ex-colleague Roly Keating, former Controller of BBC2, and hand back his pay off money.

“It is six years since I left the BBC and I have not talked about the circumstances in which I left and I don’t want to start now. I’ve really resisted turning into an armchair commentator on the BBC,” he said. “I’m fundamentally a great supporter of the BBC.”

Pressed about giving back the money, he said: “I have confidentiality obligations which I have observed about this and I just don’t think this is the [right] forum.” Pay offs made to departing BBC executives are the subject of an investigation by the National Audit Office.

Fincham also talked today about the pressure he had felt in commissioning last autumn’s Exposure documentary which revealed the former BBC presenter Jimmy Savile as a serial sex abuser. “I was under no illusions this was a big call,” he said.

The programme caused a meltdown at the BBC which led to the downfall of Fincham’s former senior colleague George Entwistle as Director General. But the ITV chief said the intention had not been to embarrass its broadcasting rival. “The Exposure about Jimmy Savile was not a programme about the BBC, it was about Jimmy Savile. It was also about Broadmoor... and Stoke Mandeville, they were all important stories in their own right and there have been repercussions in all directions.”

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