Northern Ireland news

Seven BBC Northern Ireland staff paid for external events since start of the year

BBC reporter Mark Simpson topped the list with four appearances. Picture by Mark Simpson/PA Wire

SEVEN BBC Northern Ireland staff have been paid for external events since the start of the year - with reporter Mark Simpson topping the list with four appearances.

The former BBC Ireland correspondent hosted and chaired an event for Newry Chamber of Trade on February 19, before going on to do the same at three other events in seven days the following month.

His declared work for Intertrade Ireland, Northern Ireland Hotels Federation and Newry and Dundalk Chambers earned him up to £5,000 each, according to the declaration published by the BBC.

The public broadcaster announced in October 2020 it would be publishing a quarterly summary of the paid-for external events undertaken by on-air staff in journalism and senior leaders "in order to promote the highest standards of impartiality".

The first tranche have now been released.

The other staff in demand for external events are BBC NI Economics and Business Editor John Campbell, who chaired a panel for Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce on February 4 and was a panellist at a Queen's University of Belfast event on March 22. Both were in the earnings bracket of up to £5,000

Weatherman and presenter Barra Best hosted an event for Charter NI and Short Strand Community Forum on February 15 and Radio Ulster presenter and producer Nicola Weir chaired a panel for Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon City Council on February 26.

BBC NI Business Correspondent Clodagh Rice chaired a panel for Belfast's Metropolitan Arts Centre on March 10.

Veteran presenter Mark Carruthers hosted an event for Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington on March 17 and journalist and presenter Declan Harvey hosted an event for Bryson on March 24. All were in the below £5,000 category.

The BBC said around 85 per cent of the all appearances registered were for a fee below £5,000, with 50 per cent of these under £1,000.

Director-General Tim Davie ordered the publication following claims well-paid national presenters such as Huw Edwards and Jon Sopel were using their celebrity profile to earn extra cash.

Staff must now also seek written approval from a divisional head of department before signing up to any external engagements.

Radio 4 Today presenter Justin Webb, who earns more than £250,000, appears most often in the `£5,000 or above' category - four times in total.

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis has supplemented her £370,000 salary in this tier hosting an event for commercial law firm Mason Hayes & Curran.

Andrew Marr, who earns £360,000, also earned more than £5,000 hosting an event for investment management firm Brewin Dolphin.

Today presenter Mishal Husain registered a £5,000-plus payment from World 50 and Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark is recorded in the category as a moderator for WISH Foundation for Global Health.

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