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March 16, 2018updated 19 Mar 2018 12:29pm

BBC management refuses to appear at next DCMS hearing into its pay structure but promises it is doing ‘a huge amount of work’

By Charlotte Tobitt

The BBC will not send any management representatives to the next Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing into BBC pay despite being asked by MPs to appear.

Damian Collins MP, chair of the committee, described the BBC’s response as “highly disappointing” and said the corporation had “many outstanding questions” to answer on its use of personal service companies.

But the BBC insisted it is doing a “huge amount of work” behind the scenes and will appear before the DCMS again soon once they have considered any new evidence which comes up at Tuesday’s session.

Earlier this month, BBC presenters told The Telegraph they were pressured to set up personal service companies to help the corporation save millions by not having to pay National Insurance contributions.

Several presenters are now being hit by tax demands from HMRC and allege the BBC was taking part in “industrial-level tax avoidance”.

Four broadcasters and journalists will appear at the oral evidence session on BBC pay next week when MPs are likely to quiz them about the use of personal service companies at the BBC.

They are: Liz Kershaw, radio broadcaster with BBC 6 Music, Kirsty Lang and Paul Lewis, both BBC journalists and broadcasters, and Stuart Linnell MBE, radio broadcaster with BBC Radio Northampton.

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MPs will then question tax lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC from Devereux Chambers about the practice.

Collins said: “It is highly disappointing that the BBC Management did not see fit to send anyone to give evidence at this session given there are many outstanding questions for them to answer on Personal Service Companies.

“Further, the BBC’s answers to our written questions on pay data were not particularly illuminating, referencing older data and offering nothing new. We are likely to have some robust written questions for the BBC following the session on Tuesday.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “We appeared before the Select Committee very recently, and are doing a huge amount of work to make progress in this area.

“As we have told the Committee we are open to appearing before them again once we have more to update them on and have had a chance to consider any new evidence presented on Tuesday.”

The first oral evidence session on BBC pay took place on 31 January, when the BBC’s former China editor Carrie Gracie – who resigned earlier that month over equal pay – told MPs the corporation’s unwillingness to acknowledge its “equal pay problem” had forced it to “belittle” contributions by women for decades.

Picture: Reuters/Neil Hall 

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