Smith applies for £77,000 a year part-time BBC post
Ex-home secretary felled by expenses scandal puts in application for two-and-a-half-days-a-week job
Sunday 01 August 2010
Jacqui Smith has applied for a highly paid job with the BBC just weeks after she was kicked out of Parliament by voters in Redditch.
The former home secretary, embroiled in the expenses scandal and humiliated when it emerged that she had claimed for two porn films rented by her husband, hopes to become the vice-chairman of the BBC Trust.
The job has a £77,000 salary for working just two and a half days a week and a package of generous perks.
Ms Smith has applied for a place on the trust, which "sets the course for the BBC", in advance of the departure of current vice-chairman, Chitra Bharucha, who is stepping down at the end of October.
Her application was criticised by opponents last night. Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said: "I have no idea what she thinks she has to offer the BBC Trust. Maybe she wants to go down with another sinking ship, like she did with her government.
"The last thing they need is another Labour luvvie. I just hope they have the sense to blast it out of court."
Ms Smith became a figure of condemnation towards the end of her 13-year parliamentary career, as she became one of the most prominent victims of the expenses scandal engulfing scores of MPs last year.
It emerged that she had designated her sister's house in London as her main residence, allowing her to claim parliamentary second-home allowances on her constituency home in Redditch. She claimed more than £116,000 over six years for items including a flat-screen TV and scatter cushions.
It was revealed that she had claimed for a telecoms bill containing four pay-per-view films, including two adult titles. Ms Smith blamed her husband – her parliamentary adviser, Richard Timney – who watched the films while she was away.
She was ordered to apologise to MPs following an investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, John Lyon. Ms Smith later admitted that she had been "disgraced" by the affair. She was subsequently defeated by the Tories at the general election in May.
Ms Bharucha, who is deputy to the trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, was at the centre of her own expenses furore last month when it was revealed that she had claimed back the cost of a Sky TV subscription from the BBC. The payment was part of more than £60,000 of claims made by the 12 members of the trust in just six months.
The prospect of Ms Smith replacing Ms Bharucha is likely to alarm ministers at a time of growing tensions between the BBC and the Government. The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, recently attacked the organisation's "extraordinary and outrageous" waste, particularly in relation to its executives' pay and perks.
The Mail on Sunday said that BBC sources admitted to "a certain degree of surprise" when Ms Smith's CV arrived two weeks ago. The paper claimed that, when asked about her bid, Ms Smith said: "I have made an application, that's all I know", before swearing and ending the call.
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