The BBC has already spent more than £200,000 in legal fees investigating the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.
At a fiery meeting with MPs at the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Lord Patten said the corporation had already covered legal bills of up to £10,000 each for BBC staff being investigated over claims its culture allowed its stars to commit sexual harassment and assault.
The chairman of the BBC Trust added the corporation would be prepared to go as far as £50,000 per person.
A separate inquiry by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard is looking at whether a Newsnight investigation into sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile was shelved to cover up the scandal.
40 people have already been quizzed in that inquiry, although not all were given legal help.
Lord Patten said the ongoing inquiries will be ‘expensive’, adding it would be licence fee payers that would have to “bear the cost”.