Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Sunday, 28 June 2009 12:06 UK

'Questions' for BBC on expenses

BBC Television Centre
The BBC says the expenses claims of top staff were reasonable

The BBC has "a few questions" to answer about the expenses claims of senior staff, a Cabinet minister has said.

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw said details of claims by top executives showed the BBC must be "more careful" about how it spent public money.

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson has defended the claims, made public after Freedom of Information requests, as "justified and reasonable".

They showed thousands of pounds spent on top hotels, dinners and champagne.

'Reforming pressure'

Mr Thompson, himself, claimed more than £2,000 when he cut short his holiday to deal with last year's row over lewd calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.

Mr Bradshaw, a former BBC journalist, said the corporation's decision to publish details of the pay and expenses of its 50 top executives was welcome.

But he said some of the information called into question how responsibly the licence fee was being spent.

"One or two of the things, for example some of the parties that were thrown for departing executives and stars, I was rather surprised about," he told Sky News.

In government and other areas of the public sector, such costs would have been met by the individuals themselves, he suggested.

"I think there are a few questions for the BBC," he added.

"I suspect what will happen here is the antiseptic of sunlight, the fact that it has been made open, will act as a big reforming pressure and they probably will be a bit more careful about how they spend public money in future."

The Tories have said the BBC needs to publish more details about what it pays its highest-earning stars to show licence fee payers they are getting value for money.

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