MP Gregory Campbell has accused Stephen Nolan of running scared after it emerged that BBC Northern Ireland is planning to pay the presenter £5,000 a time to host a new TV show.
Mr Campbell, a long-term critic of the non-disclosure of BBC stars' salaries, said he has been trying in vain to contact Nolan since Wednesday, when the Belfast Telegraph exclusively revealed details of what he would be paid for his new show.
The disclosure sparked a furore at Broadcasting House, prompting an emergency union meeting among BBC NI journalists angry that such a huge figure was being paid to one individual at a time of severe financial cutbacks at the corporation.
Mr Campbell, meanwhile, described Nolan’s silence over the controversy as “ironic” and claimed the presenter was burying his head in the sand. “When Nolan is trying to get a politician on air and they’re not immediately available, he criticises them,” said the East Londonderry MP.
“At times he has actually let radio silence go for a few seconds and then told listeners: ‘That’s your answer: nothing, silence, zero’.
“And now he’s doing exactly the same thing with me. It’s yet another example of double standards.”
Mr Campbell suggested that 38-year-old Nolan may have been “embarrassed” about the revelations, coming as they do a week after the Radio Ulster/Radio Five Live presenter had been quizzing the DUP politician over Stormont MLAs’ £5,000 annual pay increase.
“He was cross-examining me about a pay rise that I don’t get because I’m an MP, yet he’s getting what appears to be a pay rise of £5,000 a show on top of his existing, inflated and secret salary.”
He added: “I have gone directly to Nolan— and he has not responded. I’ve never known an occasion when I’ve tried to get onto the radio show and they have systematically refused, as has happened over the past couple of days.”
A BBC NI spokesman said: “We do not publish personal information about BBC presenters or commercially sensitive details about the BBC's programme costs.”