BBC bosses warn Naga Munchetty after she is caught moonlighting for the SECOND time by starring in NatWest adverts to top up her £195,000 salary as Tim Davie promises crackdown
- Naga Munchetty rapped by BBC bosses after appearing in videos for Natwest
- The BBC Breakfast presenter earns up to £195,000 per year for her TV role
- Comes one month after appearing in a paid corporate video for Aston Martin
- BBC has now warned Munchetty the gig ‘could be seen as a conflict of interest’
Naga Munchetty has been rapped by BBC bosses after appearing in a business interview series for NatWest.
The BBC Breakfast presenter, who earns up to £195,000 per year, hosted webinars for the banking giant weeks after she was rebuked for fronting a paid corporate video for car maker Aston Martin.
She already appears to have antagonised new director general Tim Davie, who has launched a radical shake-up of the national broadcaster to dispel accusations of partiality.
The BBC told MailOnline Munchetty has been warned the gig ‘could be seen as a conflict of interest and will be kept in mind for future editorial decisions.’
In the videos, ‘In Conversation With…’, the presenter speaks to high profile guests including former politician Ed Balls, the captain of England’s cricket team Eoin Morgan, and perfume entrepreneur Jo Malone.
Davie unveiled his bold manifesto in his debut speech last week, warning: ‘If you want to be an opinionated columnist or a partisan campaigner on social media then that is a valid choice, but you should not be working at the BBC.’
He said there would be ‘clearer direction on the declaration of external interests’ following concerns that news stars had risked undermining impartiality at the BBC with their corporate work. He added that the BBC should be ‘utterly impartial’.
While the videos were filmed before Davie took up the post, BBC insiders are reportedly ‘furious’ about Munchetty’s external engagements.
The 45-year-old is the latest in a slew of stars at the corporation including Huw Edwards, Greg James, Mishal Hussain and Jon Sopel, who have topped up their hefty salaries with payouts from oil companies, banks and car giants.
Naga Munchetty (left) was already in hot water after appearing in the corporate promo video for Aston Martin (pictured), with BBC bosses saying she may have once more put the broadcaster’s impartiality at risk
One source told the Sun: ‘How can she remain impartial if she’s doing corporate gigs for a banking giant in her free time?
‘What happens if there’s a financial story she has to discuss on the sofa, it’s an impossible situation.’
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘Since this event, Naga has been reminded of the risk of conflict of interest when undergoing external engagements.
‘We are developing clearer direction in this area as part of our wider work on impartiality and will have more to say on that in due course.’
Last month, Munchetty hosted a webinar video for the luxury carmaker without gaining approval from her employer or declaring her fee, sources told the i.
The video played up how Aston Martin was ‘engaging and assisting employees’ during the coronavirus crisis despite the company’s plans to cut 500 jobs – a fifth of its workforce.
Its chief executive Andy Palmer was fired after the company’s share price plummeted and falling sales lead to a £227m loss.
The title screenshot of the Aston Martin corporate video Naga Munchetty took part in. During the video, Freedman says the company initially put 75% of its staff on furlough to protect the company’s bottom line: ‘There was uncertainty for us when we were having to make those decisions’
BBC bosses told Munchetty that she risked a ‘conflict of interest’ and potentially jeopardised the BBC’s impartiality, since she could be asked to discuss Aston Martin’s financial troubles on air.
The BBC’s spokesperson advised that its editorial guidelines allow journalists to carry out external speaking, or chairing at private engagements as long as they maintain objectivity and impartiality.
‘On this occasion, as the event was public facing, we have advised Naga that this could be seen as a conflict of interest and this will be kept in mind for future editorial decisions.’
The BBC Breakfast presenter earns up to £195,000 per year
From saying TV licence is ‘worth the money’ to grilling Professor Green… how Naga Munchetty is no stranger to controversy
September 2020: Munchetty is warned again about Moonlighting, this time for Natwest, and is warned by the BBC the gig ‘could be seen as a conflict of interest and will be kept in mind for future editorial decisions.’
August 2020: Munchetty is hauled before BBC bosses and ‘reminded’ about ‘conflicts of interest’ after sparking a fresh impartiality row by moonlighting on a corporate video for Aston Martin.
July 2020: Munchetty was blasted by Twitter uses over her six-figure salary after saying that it was ‘worth it’. ‘We’re there to provide a service and make sure people are informed, educated and entertained. I think a licence is worth that,’ she said.
June 2020: Munchetty said broadcasters were not ‘robots’ and should do more than ‘blankly’ read the news. Her comments followed furore over the actions of fellow BBC presented Emily Maitlis who was accused of violating the BBC’s impartiality guidelines after she delivered a highly critical monologue about the Dominic Cummings lockdown controversy during an episode of Newsnight.
October 2019: Munchetty received more than 300 viewer complaints after grilling rapper Professor Green and Tory MP James Cleverly on Breakfast. Audiences were unhappy about her putting the screws to Cleverly and that she mocked Professor Green as he tried his hand at weather presenting.
In the webinar, titled ‘Road To Resilience: How Aston Martin is protecting and engaging their employees and customers’, Munchetty asks Aston Martin’s vice president and chief marketing officer Peter Freedman how the car maker has ‘reacted to this challenging and rapidly changing landscape by protecting and engaging their employees, communities and customers’.
Freedman explained the company had, at one point, placed 75% of its staff on furlough.
Munchetty asked: ‘What reassurances do they have now when it comes to their future… with Aston Martin?’
Freedman answered: ‘We wanted to give confidence to people that we’re furloughing them because there’s a lot of uncertainty, we need to protect ourselves as a business and ultimately we needed to ensure our costs were at a manageable stage, because nobody at that point knew when those restrictions were going to lift.
‘There was uncertainty for us when we were having to make those decisions.’
Conflicts of interest: The BBC stars topping up their hefty salaries as they cash in with huge payouts from banks, car giants and oil companies
JON SOPEL, £245,000-a-year BBC salary: Jon Sopel, 60, is paid up to £245,000 a year in his role as the broadcaster’s North America Editor, covering all aspects of US news including politics, policy and business.
But the presenter last year sparked a conflict of interest row after accepting tens of thousands of pounds from the biggest bank on Wall Street.
Mr Sopel boosted his pay by speaking at a string of JP Morgan events – despite it posing an apparent conflict of interest.
Jon Sopel presided over two sessions at JP Morgan’s Global Markets Conference in Paris in 2017 – which included an interview with Mr Dimon. And in 2016, Mr Sopel appeared at JP Morgan’s Board Summit in New York. Pictured is Mr Sopel giving an off-the-record keynote address at the world’s biggest tobacco company’s Miami conference in April
Mr Sopel presided over two sessions at JP Morgan’s Global Markets Conference in Paris in 2017.
And in 2016, Mr Sopel appeared at JP Morgan’s Board Summit in New York, where he interviewed a former president of the European Commission about what Brexit ‘means for global business’.
Sources say he was paid around £35,000 for the Paris conference. He is thought to have received around £20,000 for the New York event.
He is also known to have hosted other JP Morgan events. Mr Sopel’s agent Mary Greenham said: ‘He has done events for JP Morgan and the BBC are aware of this.’
Earlier in 2019, he spoke at an event by Philip Morris International, the world’s biggest tobacco company.
Mr Sopel lives in Washington with his wife, but keeps a four-bedroom house in Hampstead worth more than £2million and a £1.2million flat in London’s Belsize Park.
MISHAL HUSSAIN, £255,000-a-year BBC salary: The Radio 4’s Today programme presenter, 47, took part in at least 10 functions and in January appeared at the Oslo Energy Forum.
Ms Husain moderated the event – which she has also been apart of at least five times previously – but it is not known how much she was paid.
However other BBC stars are listed on speaking agency websites as being able to charge between £10,000 and £25,000 to attend corporate events.
At the forum Ms Husain moderated discussions on topics such as ‘climate action in a world of cherished entitlements’.
As well as the three-day Oslo Energy Forum appearances, Ms Husain has attended a conference staged by Equinor, Norway’s state-controlled oil company.
BBC presenter Mishal Husain (pictured) was paid to appear at Norwegian gas and oil industry events, causing critics to call for tighter rules
HUW EDWARDS, £495,000-a-year BBC salary: Huw Edwards has raked in an estimated £400,000 in speaking fees in the last five years.
The News at Ten anchor has fronted at least 16 events since the start of 2014, and commands fees of up to £25,000 a time.
He is also thought to have hosted numerous other events over that period – but the BBC does not make the engagements public or keep a central register so the extent of his moonlighting work is unknown.
Mr Edwards does not tend to accept money from firms that could be a conflict of interest. He also undertakes charity events for free. However, he has fronted a series of events for railway firms, regional law societies and insurance brokers.
The News at Ten anchor has fronted at least 16 events since the start of 2014, and commands fees of up to £25,000 a time
The News at Ten anchor fronted at least 16 events since the start of 2014, and commands fees of up to £25,000 a time. Pictured, Edwards hosting the British Insurance Brokers Association conference where Boris Johnson revealed his ambition to be Prime Minister
In 2019, he hosted the National Rail Awards in London and also fronted events for the Birmingham Law Society, the Women’s Institute and Thames Valley Business Magazine.
He also hosted the British Insurance Brokers Association conference where Boris Johnson revealed his ambition to be Prime Minister.
According to JLA, one of the speakers’ agencies which has him on their books, he charges between £10,000 and £25,000.
The BBC said that none of the events broke its impartiality rules.
GREG JAMES, £229,999-a-year BBC salary: Radio 1 DJ Greg James was paid £100,000 by oil giant Shell to front an online campaign which plugged the company’s ‘green’ credentials.
The 34-year-old, who broadcasts to around 5.6 million listeners each Monday to Thursday, fronted a five-part series for Shell called The Great Travel Hack.
The Top Gear-style programme followed two teams of competitors racing from London to Istanbul while using environmentally friendly vehicles.
Sources close to the PR campaign claimed that James was paid £100,000 to feature in the videos, which have been watched 81 million times since Shell uploaded them to its YouTube channel last October.
Radio 1 DJ Greg James (pictured in July promoting the Radio 1 ‘Up Yours Corona’ campaign), was paid £100,000 by oil giant Shell to front an online campaign which plugged the company’s ‘green’ credentials
KAMAL AHMED, £209,999-a-year BBC salary: In February, the editorial director of BBC News apologised for accepting a £12,000 payment for speaking at a banker’s conference, adding that he will not be taking any money from organisers.
Kamal Ahmed is understood to have received £12,000 for a 40-minute appearance at the Aberdeen Standard Investment’s conference, days after telling 450 of his colleagues that their jobs were being cut.
Ahmed – who is listed on the Speakers Associates website in the £10,000 to £25,000 per appearance category – took part in a panel discussion hosted by Steph McGovern, his former BBC colleague who now works for Channel 4.
He came under fire both publicly and within the BBC for his £12,000 fee for the event and subsequently sent an email to colleagues apologising.
Kamal Ahmed is understood to have received £12,000 for a 40-minute appearance at the Aberdeen Standard. The director, who earns between £205,000 and £209,999, is listed on the Speakers Associates website in the £10,000 to £25,000 per appearance category
Ahmed said in his email that he was asked ‘some months ago’ to talk about ‘economic issues’ by the investment firm and that he was not asked to talk about anything related to the BBC.
He is the previous Economics editor at the corporation.
Ahmed, who earns between £205,000 and £209,999, was one of four senior BBC bosses who sat on bar stools as they announced the job cuts.
He drew criticism after he turned up for the ‘bloodbath’ announcement wearing a black T-shirt and casual trousers.
Ahmed was one of four senior BBC bosses who sat on bar stools as they announced the job cuts. He drew criticism after he turned up for the ‘bloodbath’ announcement wearing a black T-shirt and casual trousers. Pictured, BBC executives Gavin Allen (left), Naja Nielson (second from left), Jonathan Munro (second from right) and Kamal Ahmed (right) as they announced the cuts