BBC chair claimed expenses for prostitute on the Orient Express, says corporation's historian

Ms Seaton also claims a former senior executive propositioned female secretaries, inviting them to submit to spanking sessions

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The Independent Online

A former chairman of the BBC governors paid for a prostitute on the Orient Express with an expenses claim, says a BBC historian.

Jean Seaton, a BBC historian who was granted unprecedented access to its archives, said that Baron Howard of Henderskelfe, chairman of the BBC governors from 1980-83, made the claim.

According to Ms Seaton, the expenses claim was kept in a manila envelope in a safe at the BBC’s headquarters, its existence known only to those at the very top.

She stumbled across the news when interviewing a former secretary of the BBC.

“She arrives in this wonderful, panelled office and thinks, ‘I’ve made it, I’ve got power,’” Seaton told an audience at the Hay Festival.

“In the corner of the room there is an old-fashioned safe. She thinks, ‘What’s in it? The war books? The code I have to read when there is a nuclear attack? A copy of the Charter?’”

“So she calls up the security man. He clears all the secretaries out of the side office. The safe door swings open and in this safe there is one thing – a brown manila envelope.

“And in the brown manila envelope is a signed-off expenses form for the use of a prostitute on the Orient Express by the chairman, Lord George Howard.”

“It had been left by the previous secretary - who had had a nervous breakdown; people holding the BBC together have nervous breakdowns – as a warning to this secretary that she would have to deal with expenses and would have to deal with the chairman of the BBC, who in many ways had been a great defender of the BBC and fought the Tories, but just had to be managed.”

Ms Seaton also claimed that a former senior executive had propositioned female secretaries, inviting them to submit to spanking sessions.

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