Huw Edwards’ ‘conscience’ questioned by Michael Cole amid hefty BBC salary claims: ‘I wonder how he squares this’

Huw Edwards’ ‘conscience’ questioned by Michael Cole amid hefty BBC salary claims: ‘I wonder how he squares this’

WATCH NOW: Michael Cole fumes at Huw Edwards' salary despite suspension

GB News
Georgia Pearce

By Georgia Pearce

Published: 02/04/2024

- 16:44

BBC Newsreader Huw Edwards was suspended in July 2023, following allegations of 'paying for inappropriate pictures' from a younger individual

Former BBC Royal Correspondent Michael Cole has hit out at the broadcaster amid reports that presenter Huw Edwards is set to be named its highest earning newsreader.

Following his suspension in July 2023, Edwards is reportedly receiving a salary of over £400,000, despite being off-air for over eight months.

Michael Cole expressed his fury at the "absurdity" of Edwards securing the highest paying newsreader salary at the channel, following the alleged inappropriate picture scandal which prompted his suspension.

Appearing on GB News, Cole hit out at the broadcaster's decision to pay Edwards such a salary and said it is "symptomatic of the waste that is endemic within the bureaucratic BBC".

Michael Cole and Huw Edwards

Michael Cole says Huw Edwards is 'taking money for nothing'

GB News / PA

The former BBC employee also noted the timing of the revelation, after the company increased its TV licence fee to £169.50, and said it is "down to the honest people like you and me to pay this sum".

Cole told GB News: "It's put up the licence fee by an inflation busting sum - the licence fee that more people are ignoring."

Questioning Edwards, Cole said: "He's a much advertised, churchgoing Presbyterian Christian, and he's taking money for nothing.

"I wonder how Huw Edwards squares this with his conscience."

In criticism of the estimated six-figure salary, Cole told Good Afternoon Britain that this has been going on for a "considerable amount of time".

Cole fumed: "This goes to the absurdity of the BBC paying Hollywood sums to people who are not worthy of those huge salaries.

"There are 100 people within the BBC and broadcasting generally who could do that job. When I was at the BBC, I was there for a fifth of its existence. Newsreaders like Richard Baker, Kenneth Kendall, Robert Dougall, Moira Stewart, they were all staff announcers on staff contracts, very modest sums of money, a fraction of what Huw Edwards is being given."

He continued: "It is absurd because it's a false marketplace. Those people who are getting these sums from the BBC could not go anywhere else, and I say that on the record, and get such huge sums of the licence payers money, our money."

Tom Harwood was in agreement with Cole, and added that the reported salary given to Edwards is "extraordinary" and "just a tenth of the salary allegedly being paid would be a very good salary indeed".

Michael Cole

Michael Cole said the broadcaster paying Edwards such a salary is 'absurd'

GB News

However, Tom then added that Edwards has "not been accused of any crime", and the police "investigated and said no crime had been committed".

Tom asked Cole: "He is now suffering serious mental health problems, is there not a moment here for compassion?"

Cole responded: "People speaking on his behalf say he's not well enough to face a BBC inquiry. I think we're entitled to ask if he's not well enough after all this time, when will he be well enough? I worked for the BBC for more than 20 years.

"I covered wars, civil disturbances and riots. I was beaten up and put in hospital in Belfast and I contracted hepatitis in the jungles of Guatemala during the confrontation with Belize. The highest salary I ever got in that time was £47,000, and I was proud to be a BBC reporter."

Cole added: "And I was proud to do it, because I believed in public service broadcasting. Does the BBC any longer believe in public service broadcasting, or does it think it's gone to Hollywood?"

A BBC spokesman has said: "As we have previously explained, we will not provide a commentary on what is an internal employment process and we would urge people not to indulge in speculation."

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