The editorial director of BBC News has apologised for accepting a £12,000 fee to speak at a banking conference just days after he helped oversee the announcement of 450 journalist job cuts.
Kamal Ahmed apologised to staff in an email today and revealed he has now told the event organisers he will not take the money.
Ahmed, who was economics editor at BBC News until he took up the management role in 2018, spoke at an event hosted by Aberdeen Standard Investments titled “Investing for the Future” last week.
He said in his email that he was asked “some months ago” to talk about “economic issues” by the investment firm and that he was not asked to talk about anything related to the BBC.
Ahmed came under fire both publicly and within the BBC for his £12,000 fee for the event after it was reported by the Mail on Sunday.
In the email, he wrote: “I realise now that I did not think things through sufficiently at the time of the booking and, although I did not break any of the BBC’s guidelines on external speaking, it was a mistake to agree to a fee.
“I have told ASI this morning that I will not be taking any payment. I wanted to say sorry that a mistake made by me has become a public and internal issue.”
Ahmed earned up to £209,999 from the BBC in the 2018/19 financial year, according to the corporation’s annual list of staff paid more than £150,000.
He was part of a team of executives accompanying BBC director of news Fran Unsworth when she told staff on 29 January that up to 450 jobs would be cut in a major reorganisation that will see the overall news output and size of BBC News reduced.
A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC’s editorial guidelines allow BBC journalists to carry out external speaking, or chairing, engagements as long as they maintain objectivity and impartiality.”