Call to quit
BBC’s Ahmed apologises for accepting £12k speaking fee
Kamal Ahmed: accused of greed
The BBC’s editorial director Kamal Ahmed has apologised to staff for accepting a £12,000 fee to speak at a financial services conference.
The former Scotland on Sunday journalist, who was previously the BBCs economics editor, was paid for a 40-minute appearance at Aberdeen Standard Investments’ Investing for the Future event.
In an email to staff he admitted he “did not think things through” and said he would not be taking the payment.
His appearance at the event came just days after the BBC announced it would be cutting about 450 jobs in a bid to save £80m by 2022.
Mr Ahmed, who is said to earn more than £200,000 in his current role, was accused of being greedy and faced calls to resign.
“I realise now that I did not think things through sufficiently at the time of the booking and, although I did not break any of the BBC’s guidelines on external speaking, it was a mistake to agree to a fee,” he said in his message to staff.
“I wanted to say sorry that a mistake made by me has become a public and internal issue.”
But John Sweeney, a former investigative journalist at the BBC, said the apology was not enough and called for him to go.
“Kamal Ahmed’s greed is not acceptable for BBC News editorial director or even the lowliest runner,” he wrote in a tweet.
A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC’s editorial guidelines allow BBC journalists to carry out external speaking, or chairing, engagements as long as they maintain objectivity and impartiality.”
Mr Ahmed left Scotland on Sunday to join The Guardian and later was appointed political editor of The Observer.
He became business editor of The Sunday Telegraph and took time out from journalism as director of communications at the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
He joined the BBC in 2014 as business editor, replacing Robert Peston, and becoming economics editor two years later.
He became part of the BBC News management team as editorial director in the summer of 2018, responsible for shaping editorial strategy, focusing on “storytelling and explanatory journalism” to match output to audience research.