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Thursday, 28 May 2015

BBC Boss Faces Awkward Questions Over "Incestuous" Programme Spending

The Controller of BBC2 and BBC4 is at the centre of a conflict of interest row after overseeing payments for a show made by her husband.

Kim Shillinglaw, whose £227,800 salary is one-and-a-half times that of the Prime Minister's, had been in the job only a few months when the BBC commissioned "Frankenstein and the Vampyre", for which her husband Steve Condie acted as Executive Producer.

The BBC claimed that the programme was ordered by BBC4 editor Cassian Harrison, but admitted that Miss Shillinglaw had oversight of the decision. However, there is no mention of Miss Shillinglaw's relationship with Mr Condie on her official "declaration of personal interests", which is published on the BBC website. Senior BBC executives are expected to publicly declare any external business interests or relationships they have with BBC suppliers.

Miss Shillinglaw previously endorsed another of her husband's shows, "Let Us Entertain You".

Conservative backbenchers have been quick to condemn Miss Shillinglaw's apparent conflict of interest. Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole, told the Daily Mail: "If this was a corporation failing to make these disclosures, the BBC would be all over it like a rash. It is completely unacceptable for these relationships not to be publicly declared."

Prominent Eurosceptic Bill Cash, MP for Stone, added: "There is a strong reason why personal relationships of that kind can create significant ethical problems.

"I believe it should be considered in the review of the BBC Charter. There are a significant number of concerns about the cosy relationships in a body which receives £5.2billion a year."

A television insider described the situation as "incestuous", adding: "If there is nothing wrong with having your husband as exec producer of a four-hour show, why not say so proudly?"

A BBC spokesman said Miss Shillinglaw made the "appropriate personal declarations" but it did not publish these online for data protection reasons which he said affect all companies.

He added: "The BBC has well-established procedures to ensure potential conflicts are avoided... Kim did not commission either of these shows and it would be factually misleading to suggest otherwise."

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