A political row has erupted over the BBCs decision to appoint a former Labour minister, James Purnell, as its new £295k-a-year director of strategy and digital.
The former culture secretary is a former head of corporate planning at the broadcaster and landed the plum position after being offered the role directly by incoming director-general Tony Hall, without advertising the vacancy to others in a bid to save money.
Commenting on his appointment Purnell said: “I’m excited to be coming back to the BBC to work on its future with such a great team. Over the last couple of years, producing and developing programmes has rekindled my passion for the career I had before politics. I feel very lucky to have the chance to return to the BBC."
The news wasn’t received well in Conservative circles however with Rob Wilson, Conservative MP for Reading East, saying: “Many have long had suspicions about a metropolitan, Leftist bias to the BBC’s output, particularly in news," Mr Wilson said. “With the BBC under greater scrutiny in recent months, I find it hard to think why the BBC think a former Labour Cabinet minister is an appropriate choice for a leadership role.
“At a time when household budgets are under pressures, licence fee-payers will also find it strange that Mr Purnell is to be paid nearly £300,000 a year in his new role as ‘director of strategy’.
“The BBC has only recently faced public, heavy criticism for wasting people’s money on lavishly paid non-jobs at the top. This suggests it has learned nothing.
“Tony Hall’s tenure as director-general has not got off to an auspicious start."