United Kingdom

BBC senior executive is paid £325,000 a year to monitor whether the Corporation is impartial

A senior BBC executive is being paid £325,000 a year to monitor whether the Corporation is biased, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Ken MacQuarrie, who stepped down as the BBC’s director for nations and regions at the end of last year, has been given the grandiose title of Executive Sponsor Safeguarding Impartiality and will continue on the same salary.

The news comes days after the Corporation’s new chairman, Richard Sharp, told MPs that the BBC needed to combat accusations of ‘groupthink’ amid concerns that there is a ‘liberal metropolitan view governing editorial decisions’.

Ken MacQuarrie (pictured), who stepped down as the BBC’s director for nations and regions at the end of last year, has been given the grandiose title of Executive Sponsor Safeguarding Impartiality and will continue on the same salary

He cited the BBC1 drama Roadkill, written by David Hare and starring Hugh Laurie as a corrupt Tory Minister, as an example of ‘partial’ broadcasting.

He also admitted Remainers had outnumbered Brexiteers on its flagship Question Time show.

Tim Davie, who became director-general in September, has imposed strict rules to reduce bias among the BBC’s stars.

Measures include social-media guidance around the liking of posts and the use of emojis and instructions that staff should not ‘express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics, or controversial subjects’. 

Mr MacQuarrie, who joined the BBC as a researcher in 1975, has been tasked with training staff on the ‘impartiality’ standards expected of them. However, critics said it was ridiculous to expect licence-fee payers to fund such lucrative roles.

He cited the BBC1 drama Roadkill, written by David Hare and starring Hugh Laurie as a corrupt Tory Minister, as an example of ‘partial’ broadcasting

John O’Connell, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Bumper pay for BBC backroom bosses flies in the face of ratepayers facing economic ruin.

‘These extraordinary sums are picked from the pockets of pensioners and poor taxpayers, who are fed up of forking out for the licence fee under pain of imprisonment.’

The BBC said Mr MacQuarrie’s new role was only temporary.

A spokesman added: ‘Ken MacQuarrie will leave the BBC this year after delivering new measures to reaffirm the Corporation’s commitment to impartiality with the director-general and director of editorial policy.

‘He is also working on a number of other key corporate projects and ensuring a smooth transition with the new director of nations.’ 

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