Pandora: Expenses scandal hits the Beeb's newsroom

By Alice-Azania Jarvis
Saturday 08 March 2014 03:09

What's this? While BBC editors work themselves into a lather over MPs' expenses, a tale of excess from within their own ranks.

Pandora hears that rumblings of discontent are echoing across the Corporation's newsrooms, after the world news editor Jon Williams, and head of news gathering, Fran Unsworth, decided to oversee cost-cutting measures in the Washington bureau – including, apparently, several redundancies – by taking the highly economical step of flying across the Atlantic, at tax payers' expense, and personally informing the guillotine-ready staff of their individual fates.

"The purpose was to manage important staff restructuring taking place," explains a spokesman. "And to do face-to-face appraisals."

Sceptical hacks at the Beeb, however, are wondering about more recreational motives. Surely the decision couldn't have anything to do with the fact that – the very same week that the pair were due to fly over – President Obama was hosting the illustrious annual White House correspondents dinner? Pandora would never be so cynical. Incidentally, though, we gather that both Williams and Unsworth felt "obliged" to attend.

O'Leary bags some swag

A lesson in credit crunch survival at Tuesday night's Glamour Awards, courtsey of one Dermot O'Leary.

No longer facing the prospect of a well-employed summer of Big Brother, the resourceful presenter was nevertheless to be seen scrabbling under the table in search of an extra goodie bag.

"It isn't ours, but we're taking it anyway!" he boasted, when his efforts were finally rewarded.

A risqué send-off for Jacqui

In characteristically flamboyant style, Ben Westwood – the photographer son of Dame Vivienne – was to be found yesterday celebrating Jacqui Smith's departure with a glass of champagne at East London's Bodhi Gallery.

Of course, Smith and Westwood are old foes: he greeted her legislation banning "extreme pornography" by sending a parade of barely-clad chain-bound models through central London. "One down, a few to go," he cheered of the Home Secretary.

Remarkably prescient, in the event.

Jaime warms up for rock 'n' roll debut

Soon to complete that enviable showbiz trio, actress-musician-model, is Jaime Winstone, star of Kidulthood and girlfriend of Alfie Allen.

The talented sprite tells us she is to make her debut with her new band at a mystery location. Also in attendance: mumbling substance-abuser Pete(r) Doherty.

Can we expect a duet? We'll have to wait and see.

"It's in a couple of weeks' time," says a bashful Winstone. "I'm really excited about it."

Cash for crisis? Ray begs for help

Desperate measures from the Labour Party's Ray Collins ahead of today's inevitably disastrous poll.

The wipe-out fearing General Secretary has sent out a last-minute appeal to members, asking them to donate to a fund for printing anti-BNP leaflets.

Pleads Collins: "We literally have hours left... Donating £15 now lets us print an extra 1,000 leaflets."

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