BBC News has taken on 243 external candidates... since introducing recruitment freeze

BBC News has taken on at least 243 external candidates since introducing an external recruitment freeze.

And official figures suggest there has been a net increase in staff in the division over the last two years.

Freedom of Information documents also reveal the department's staff number has grown since March 2013 – despite nearly 500 redundancies being announced since then.

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Director general Tony Hall announced the BBC News external recruitment freeze on 11 September 2014. This was two months after around 400 redundancies were announced across the department.

In June this year, it emerged that BBC News had taken on 72 external recruits since the cuts were announced. This included 43 between the 17 July cuts and the freeze and 29 after 11 September.

However, an FoI seen by Press Gazette has revealed that in the year to 17 October 2015, 243 external candidates joined BBC News on continuing or fixed-term contracts. A further 1,178 people were classed as "internal hires" during this period.

The BBC said the external recruits were taken on for roles "that fall under the exceptions policy". The exceptions policy covers some overseas posts and the freeze is on UK contracts.

A spokesman said: "The vast majority (83 per cent) of jobs have gone to internal candidates. The small number of external recruits hired during the freeze were for roles that fall under the exceptions policy."

The FoI also asked for the BBC News staff count as of 1 October this year.

The corporation said the BBC "employed 7,393 staff on continuing or fixed-term contracts across the whole News division" on this date.

On 31 March 2015, the end of the 2014/15 financial year, this figure was 7,314. And it was 7,340 on 31 March 2013.

The BBC said: "Headcount fluctuates constantly in the BBC to meet production demand such as prior to the general election. In March 2014 headcount was 7697, since then numbers have fallen."

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