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.
Some of the events are so dull that audiences could be baffled at why Mr Edwards would want to take the work, when he is already paid up to £495,000 a year from licence fee funds.
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. Pictured is Huw Edwards hosting the British Insurance Brokers Association conference where Boris Johnson revealed his ambition to be Prime Minister
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.
However it lays bare the scale of the lucrative sideline enjoyed by many BBC presenters. Yesterday, insiders at the corporation said that speaking work is such easy money, it can become addictive.
One broadcaster – a household name who has also earned huge sums from public speaking – said the amount of cash on offer for so little effort is too tempting to turn down. He described how writing an article for a national newspaper required a ‘huge’ amount of work, and leaves presenters exposed to criticism if they make a mistake.
Some of the events are so dull that audiences could be baffled at why Mr Edwards would want to take the work, when he is already paid up to £495,000 a year from licence fee funds. The Mail has previously revealed that he has hosted the Concrete Society Awards
By contrast, he said that BBC hosts can ‘wheel out the same jokes they have told a thousand times before’ to a conference audience that is unlikely to criticise because they are dazzled by the speaker’s star power.
‘Obviously we are all as venal as anyone else so that is appealing,’ he said.
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 Mail has previously revealed that he has hosted the Concrete Society Awards.
This year alone, he has hosted the National Rail Awards in London. He has 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. Mr Edwards announced the ‘scoop’ on his Instagram account, raising questions over the way public figures could exploit BBC journalists thirsty for speaking fees to make announcements.
According to JLA, one of the speakers’ agencies which has him on their books, he charges between £10,000 and £25,000.
Yesterday, Mr Edwards said that his speaking fees ‘vary enormously’ and that he does not accept fees for charity events. He added: ‘Like broadcasters from other organisations, I am always happy to host events celebrating the best of British.’
The BBC said that none of the events broke its impartiality rules, and that BBC staff are allowed to undertake outside engagements as long as they maintain objectivity and impartiality.
How £245,000-a-year BBC presenter Jon Sopel has cashed in as a hired speaker for US bank giant JP Morgan
BBC presenter Jon Sopel is at the centre of a conflict of interest row after accepting tens of thousands of pounds from the biggest bank on Wall Street.
Mr 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 boosted his pay by speaking at a string of JP Morgan events – despite it posing an apparent conflict of interest.
Mr Sopel, 60, boosted his BBC pay packet by speaking at a string of JP Morgan events – despite it posing an apparent conflict of interest
The bank is involved in nearly all aspects of American business, including highly controversial investments in the gun industry and fracking – both issues covered by Mr Sopel.
JP Morgan’s chief executive Jamie Dimon has also come under fire over his £25million-a-year pay packet and for clashing publicly with Donald Trump.
But despite these controversies, Mr Sopel accepted secretive engagements from the bank – though it is not clear how many events this added up to.
Mr Sopel presided over two sessions at JP Morgan’s Global Markets Conference in Paris in 2017 – which included an interview with Mr Dimon.
JP Morgan’s chief executive Jamie Dimon has also come under fire over his £25million-a-year pay packet and for clashing publicly with Donald Trump
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 – roughly the average British annual salary. 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, but the bank and Mr Sopel’s agent Mary Greenham declined to comment.
Miss Greenham said: ‘He has done events for JP Morgan and the BBC are aware of this.’
The revelations could fuel further anger over BBC presenters accepting huge sums of cash for appearances that could call its impartiality into question.
Last week Question Time host Fiona Bruce and business editor Simon Jack were forced to pull out of a lucrative event for a firm accused of inadvertently helping criminals to obtain passports.
They withdrew after the Daily Mail revealed the conflict of interest involved in speaking at the Henley & Partners event. BBC bosses admitted this would have breached its guidelines.
Yesterday MPs claimed Mr Sopel has also flouted the broadcaster’s impartiality rules. Tory Andrew Bridgen said: ‘He is in the pocket of JP Morgan. It is difficult to believe, when he has taken money off them, that he can be impartial when he’s reporting on matters that impact Wall Street.’
The engagements could also cast doubt over his ability to be impartial when reporting on the US President. Mr Dimon riled Mr Trump last year after claiming at a conference he would beat the President in an election campaign because he is ‘smarter’.
Mr 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 Trump responded on Twitter, saying Mr Dimon did not have ‘the “smarts”’ and branded him a ‘poor public speaker and nervous mess’.
The BBC’s rules state ‘public speaking commitments should not compromise the impartiality’ of the broadcaster.
They include a special provision for news and current affairs staff that they ‘should not chair conferences which are a promotional exercise for a commercial company that… is not impartial on a matter of public policy… or any other “controversial subject”.’
But yesterday BBC sources said the JP Morgan events did not represent a conflict of interests. A spokesman said: ‘BBC staff are allowed to undertake certain outside engagements which they are required to clear with us, as long as they maintain objectivity and impartiality.’
A BBC spokesman said: ‘BBC staff are allowed to undertake certain outside engagements which they are required to clear with us, as long as they maintain objectivity and impartiality’
The JP Morgan events are not the only occasions on which Mr Sopel has accepted a controversial speaking engagement.
Earlier this year, he spoke at an event by Philip Morris International, the world’s biggest tobacco company. The ‘open mic’ event was held at a five-star hotel in Miami, where he regaled an audience with his tales of covering the Trump presidency, it was claimed by the cigarette firm staff.
Philip Morris told BuzzFeed that Mr Sopel gave ‘a keynote speech on covering the Trump White House’ but claimed it was ‘an internal meeting and an off-the-record discussion’.
The arrangement sparked fury both inside and outside the BBC. One radio host said staff were angry that Mr Sopel was ‘foolish’ enough to accept such a controversial gig, amid fears the controversy could lead to a crack-down on the lucrative sideline hundreds of presenters enjoy.
The BBC said it did not break rules, but former BBC News director Richard Sambrook said: ‘So is he now prevented from reporting on Big Tobacco? Should be.’
This lucrative sideline has helped Mr Sopel fund an enviable lifestyle. He 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.