Bumper pay packets handed out to BBC executives have caused "massive damage" to the corporation, according to its Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen.
He said the issue of high pay had given the corporation's opponents "sticks and stones to chuck at us" and caused resentment internall.
Director-general Tony Hall introduced a cap on pay-offs of £150,000 when he took over.
His predecessor George Entwistle was paid a year's salary when he left the BBC. He was in place for 54 days before resigning over his handling of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Other senior figures who walked away with high payouts include former chief operating officer Caroline Thomson, who got £680,000, and deputy director general Mark Byford, who departed the BBC with a total payout of £949,000.
Bowen told the Guardian: "The over-remuneration of people was a huge mistake and it's caused massive damage to the BBC. It's caused it internally, because the vast majority of people who work at the BBC do not get brilliantly paid.
"But the massive salaries given to top management angered people on the shop floor, exaggerated the 'them and us' feeling that there was a chauffeur-driven top of the corporation with enormous salaries and massive bonuses. And that caused a lot of resentment and still does. I resented it personally."