Monday, October 10, 2016

Your witness

Further reading of the tax tribunal case featuring BBC News presenters Tim Willcox and Joanna Gosling versus HMRC suggests problems for Auntie when the proceedings move forward. The BBC fought hard to be considered as a party to the case, and sought "an active role in the preparation of witness statements".

Lawyers for Willcox and Gosling, both facing big bills for back tax, want to cross-examine David Smith, former BBC tax guru, and Mary Hockaday, Head of the Newsroom when the two presenters set up private companies to take their BBC salaries. The BBC argued that there are 'more authoritative' witnesses, and have offered David Jordan, Head of Editorial Standards, Roger Leatham, Controller of Rights, Business and Legal Affairs, and A.N. Other.

The presenters' lawyers have so far won the day. If Willcox and Gosling's cases are similar to many reported to me, there was considerable arm-twisting from the BBC side to get the PSCs set-up - often against talent's wishes. Some managed to hold out. Others now find huge demands for back-payment, taking away the money they were supposed to use to sort out pensions etc. And some are now back on staff, on severely reduced salaries, with broken service. It's not nice, and any arm-twisting should be fully exposed.

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