BBC publishes details of executives' expenses

LONDON - BBC director-general Mark Thompson claimed more than £2,000 to fly himself and his family back from holiday when the 'Sachsgate' furore kicked off, according to documents released by the BBC.

The corporation today published details of expenses claims made by 100 top executives over the last five years in a bid to become more transparent.

Last year, the BBC's top 10 executives claimed £145,000 on expenses, but details of what the money was spent on have not been revealed until today.

The claims are not in the league of MPs who used taxpayers' money to fund floating island for ducks or finance bosses' home renovations.

Nevertheless, the details give an insight into the myriad taxi journeys, gifts and lavish meals enjoyed by BBC chiefs and paid for by the British public.

Jane Bennettt, director of BBC Vision, made a claim for £500 after her handbag was stolen.

She also made numerous claims for gifts to present to executives, presenters and actors from around the globe. Items include bottles of Pimms, a gift-wrapped Harrods bear, a Big Ben teapot and a muffin cookie tin.

Thompson's £2,236.90 bill for flights from Sicily to deal with public outrage over Jonathan Ross's and Russell Brand's lewd calls to Jonathan Sachs was not the only time he claimed expenses after cutting short a family holiday to deal with BBC business.

He also chartered a plane from Maine to Boston at a costing of £1,277.71 on August 8 2004 to interrupt another family holiday to London to deal with an urgent staff issue.

Another expense claim made by the BBC chief include £99.99 for a bottle of champagne to give to Bruce Forsyth for his 80th birthday. In total, the BBC spent nearly £48,000 on champagne last year.

Other expense details to arise include a £1,137.55 claim by former head of audio and music Jenny Abramsky for a dinner to celebrate Terry Wogan's knighthood, while former BBC technology chief Ashley Highfield claimed £217 for an iPod Touch.

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