BBC HR director Lucy Adams to leave following MPs' criticism over exec pay offs

The BBC's HR director Lucy Adams, who was heavily criticised by the Commons Public Accounts Committee in a hearing last month over excessive payments to departing executives, is set to leave the corporation.

Adams, who is paid a salary of £320,000, will leave at the end of the financial year in March 2014 without any severance pay and will work her notice period.

She was forced to reject accusations the BBC was engaged in "cronyism" during the hearing but admitted to MPs there was a culture at the corporation "which clearly did not deliver value for money".

The committee called Adams along with director-general Tony Hall and BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten to give evidence after a National Audit Office (NAO) report showed huge payments, of hundreds of thousands of pounds in some cases, were made even though executives were not always entitled to the money.

She said: "I have been discussing my decision to leave the BBC with Tony Hall for some time now. By next spring I will have been at the BBC for five years which feels like a good time to try something new.

"It has been a great privilege to lead the BBC's People division. The BBC is a unique institution and I am extremely proud of the work the team has achieved in spite of the challenges along the way. I look forward to continuing that work with Tony and the executive board in the coming months."

Hall said: "I am enormously grateful to Lucy for all her work and I will be very sorry to see her go next spring. She has done a great job and contributed a huge amount to the BBC. I am pleased that, in the short term at least, she will continue to help me simplify the way we do business in the BBC so that we can spend more time concentrating on our programmes and services."

During the committee hearing, she told MPs the payoff to former deputy director general Mark Byford who received around £1 million when he left the BBC after 31 years service was in part down to established "custom and practice".

Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, told her: "Why did you not put your foot down? You're head of HR there.

"It's public money, it's licence fee payers money, it's not your money, it's our money."

Earlier this month, Hall told the Edinburgh Television Festival that he understood the "resentment" and"anger" over levels of pay at the corporation and the issue of severance pay.

He said: "I really do want to heal this appalling divide between, as it were, the people who are running the BBC and the people who are doing really hard work and day in, day out, are doing amazing things."

One of his predecessors, Mark Thompson, is expected to give evidence to the committee next month on the issue of payoffs.

The NAO report found the BBC spent £25 million on severance payments for 150 high-ranking staff in a three-year period up to December and had made payments totaling £60 million to 401 senior managers since 2005.

In almost a quarter of the individual cases reviewed by the NAO, the BBC paid out more than the staff were entitled to under their contracts.

The possibility of criminal charges over payments was dismissed by Scotland Yard which said it will take no further action, but more pay-offs have been put under the microscope after auditors were called back into the corporation.

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