Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Alan Yentob quits as BBC creative director after scrutiny over charity role

Published 03/12/2015

Alan Yentob always insisted there was no conflict of interest
Alan Yentob always insisted there was no conflict of interest

Alan Yentob has stepped down as BBC creative director, saying that his role at failed charity Kids Company was a "serious distraction".

Mr Yentob, who was chairman of trustees at the charity, has faced scrutiny over his role as well as claims he tried to influence coverage at the corporation of its troubles.

He has always insisted there was no conflict of interest in his decision to call Newsnight about its investigation into Kids Company and had not ''abused my position at the BBC''.

The BBC Trust, the broadcaster's governing body, said it is right to consider if there are ''lessons to be learnt'' from what has happened, but is not investigating a complaint it received about Mr Yentob.

The Trust said it had seen no evidence that his role as chairman of the charity meant that he was not also able to be the BBC's creative director, adding that ''it would not be proportionate, appropriate or cost effective to look further at these matters''.

In a statement, Mr Yentob said: "The BBC is going through particularly challenging times and I have come to believe that the speculation about Kids Company and the media coverage revolving around my role is proving a serious distraction."

The charity folded on August 5 this year, just six days after receiving a £3 million grant in a final bid to keep it afloat.

Mr Yentob added: "I have spoken to Tony Hall and told him that I think it best that I step down from my senior management role as creative director at the end of this year and focus on programme making and TV production - including of course the Imagine series. I will also continue supporting Christine Langan and her team as chairman of BBC Films.

"I love the BBC and will continue to do everything I can to ensure that it thrives and fulfils the great expectations we all have of it."

Mr Yentob is said to have phoned the BBC 2 programme Newsnight in July as it prepared to broadcast a report suggesting the Government would withhold further funding for Kids Company unless its founder Camila Batmanghelidjh stood down.

But the BBC's director general Tony Hall said that BBC News had concluded that Mr Yentob had not tried to influence their reporting on the charity as he accepted his resignation.

He added: "Alan is a towering figure in television, the arts, and a creative force for good for Britain. He has served the BBC with distinction in a number of different executive roles - all of which have been characterised by his energy, creativity and commitment to public service. He has an extraordinary roll-call of achievement."

Mr Yentob joined the BBC as a trainee in 1968 and has held positions as controller of BBC One, BBC Two, director of programmes and director of television. Since 2003, he has also edited and presented the arts documentary series Imagine.

In 2004, he was appointed creative director to oversee the corporation's creative strategy.

Figures published by the BBC and correct as of August 2015 said Mr Yentob received £183,300 a year for his role as creative director. The figure does not cover his salary for Imagine or any other programmes he does for the BBC, for which he receives a separate fee.

The BBC confirmed that he would not receive a pay-off for stepping down from his role and that he would continue as editor of Imagine and in his unpaid role as chairman of BBC Films.

Mr Yentob has faced scrutiny since claims of financial mismanagement of Kids Company arose, the charity for which he served as chairman of the board of trustees from 2003 until its collapse in 2015.

He has repeatedly denied that he had sought to use his position as a senior BBC executive to influence the corporation's coverage.

As well as contacting Newsnight, he was accused of attempting to intimidate a producer by standing alongside him when Ms Batmanghelidjh was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph