John Humphrys was asked how much he earned in a live Radio 4 interview this morning – but unlike his BBC News colleague Carrie Grace, he refused to say.
The veteran Today broadcaster was asked about his salary by Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP who chairs the public accounts committee.
The committee today published a damning report on the amount paid to BBC radio presenters and condemned the corporation for refusing to make full salary details available.
“They have fought again and again to prevent parliament getting full statutory access to the BBC, which is wholly owned by the public,” Leigh told the Today programme.
“We the taxpayer pay £3bn a year in a poll tax. Surely we the public who pay your salaries, John, should have an idea of what you earn.
“You do a very good job. For instance, do you earn more than the prime minister?”
After a few seconds’ pause, Humphrys replied: “Well, I’d love to be able to tell you that.”
Leigh pressed him further, adding: “I think you do an excellent job. Why shouldn’t you earn more than the prime minister? But as we pay your salary, it’d be quite nice to know.
“There are many younger people who may want to come and present the Today programme who could do it just as well as you for less money.”
Humphrys eventually replied: “As far as most presenters are concerned, and I include myself in that, we’re not going to break ranks because it’s for the BBC to make this decision. We’re freelances.”
Last month, BBC newsreader Carrie Grace revealed in a live on-air exchange with Labour peer Lord Foulkes that she earned £92,000 a year.