BBC Expenses Log Sparks Claim of Management 'Milking the System' NINE EXECUTIVES CLAIMED A TOTAL OF Pounds 21,095.45 SINCE 2009

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Byline: MARTIN SHIPTON

SENIOR BBC Wales executives claimed hundreds of pounds in expenses for lunches and leaving parties, new documents reveal.

The sum came to light in a log of expenses claimed by nine current and former members of BBC Wales management ,which has been released following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The disclosures prompted allegations that senior BBC bosses were "milking the system" at the expense of licence-payers.

Colleagues of former head of news and current affairs Gwilym Owen, whose decades-long stint with the broadcaster came to an end in July, consumed food and drink to the value of pounds 719.25. The amount appeared on an expense claim submitted by Keith Jones, who at the time was the acting Director of BBC Wales. It also emerged that an "opinion former lunch" at Woods Brasserie in Cardiff Bay last November cost pounds 550. The event, which was attended by BBC Director General Mark Thompson and picketed by Welsh language activists, included a discussion about the BBC's new role in funding S4C out of the licence fee. The amount was claimed by Rhodri Talfan Davies, who at the time was head of strategy and communications at BBC Wales and is now its Director.

On 10 occasions Mr Davies claimed rail fares between his home in Bristol and London to attend meetings of "Delivering Quality First" - the euphemistically titled BBC cuts programme.

The 10 fares cost a total of pounds 1,690.

Other claims include money spent on staff "away days", taxis and significant hotel expenses. Former head of change and internal communications Nigel Walker claimed for hotel stays costing more than pounds 100 a night on 28 occasions.

Another leaving party for WJ Smale, an employee with 26 years' service, cost pounds 140 in September 2009.

Head of broadcasting development Cath Allen claimed pounds 18 excess baggage on a flight for bringing back awards won at the Celtic Film Festival.

Altogether, the nine executives have claimed a total of pounds 21,095.45 since 2009.

Steve Fleming, a Cardiff-based freedom of information campaigner who requested the expense log, said: "This request reveals highly paid executives and managers are milking the system at the expense of the licence-paying public. …