Ex BBC war correspondent Martin Bell reveals he never asked for pay rise in 33 year career

Veteran BBC newsman Martin Bell believes newsreaders are paid ‘far too much’ for reading ‘words off an autocue’ – and revealed he never asked for a pay rise in 33 years.  

The 82-year-old, who first starting working for the BBC in 1962 before quitting in the mid-1990s to run for election as an ‘anti-sleaze’ MP, said he was ‘amazed’ at how much BBC presenters were earning.

The top earner is Huw Edwards, who is paid around £465,000-a-year, with others including Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, on around £375,000-a-year, and Question Time host Fiona Bruce, on £455,000-a-year.

Speaking today, Martin, who was injured by shrapnel while reporting in Sarajevo during the war in Bosnia in 1992 and was awarded an OBE the same year, said he was only earning £60,000-a-year by the time he left the BBC after 33 years.

Veteran broadcaster Martin Bell, 82, has revealed he never asked for a pay rise in 33 years

Veteran broadcaster Martin Bell, 82, has revealed he never asked for a pay rise in 33 years

Veteran broadcaster Martin Bell, 82, has revealed he never asked for a pay rise in 33 years

Martin Bell said he was 'amazed' by BBC salaries, including Newsnight's Emily Maitlis on £375K

Martin Bell said he was 'amazed' by BBC salaries, including Newsnight's Emily Maitlis on £375K

Martin Bell said he was ‘amazed’ by BBC salaries, including Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis on £375K

He said: ‘I’m amazed now by BBC news stars’ pay. When I read about today’s news stars I think no one deserves that amount, however good they are.

‘A lot of it is just reading words off an autocue.

‘It’s not like they’re risking their lives. I’m not angry about it, but I just wonder how they can justify the salary to themselves.’

He added: ‘When I was at the BBC I didn’t ask for a pay rise for 33 years, but I’ve no regrets as it was a huge privilege to do what I was doing.

‘More savvy colleagues said I should have been fighting to get a lucrative contract, but I just loved doing the job.’

He told the Business & Money supplement in The Sunday Times: ‘The only time I was even mildly affluent was when I was an MP, because I had a BBC pension and parliamentary salary.

Huw Edwards is one of the BBC's highest news earners with an annual salary of £465,000

Huw Edwards is one of the BBC's highest news earners with an annual salary of £465,000

Huw Edwards is one of the BBC’s highest news earners with an annual salary of £465,000 

‘A lot of MPs complained they were underpaid, but I don’t think I was.’

Asked to reveal his ‘money weakness’, he said he spent too much on his favourite tipple, adding: ‘I probably spend too much on whisky. Bells of course, although there’s no family link.’

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