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BBC offers to fund Lucy Adams libel action

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The BBC is funding the legal costs of its outgoing HR director, Lucy Adams, who is pursuing possible legal action against a trade union for libel after it associated her with a “dirty tricks” campaign.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said in August that a former BBC HR director turned whistleblower had said in a sworn statement that Adams's department had been involved in "hacking staff emails and bullying employees into spying on colleagues".

Adams, who is leaving her £320,000 a year job in March, is now seeking external legal advice for defamation, said the BBC in a statement relating a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by The Independent.

A BBC spokesperson said: "As the NUJ made serious and damaging allegations against Lucy Adams in her role as the BBC's director of human resources, the BBC has agreed to fund the reasonable costs of Adams seeking external legal advice.

Earlier this year, Adams was criticised by MPs over the payout given to former deputy director-general Mark Byford, who received £949,000 when he left two years ago.

She was accused by MPs of presiding over a culture of "corporate fraud and cronyism" at the BBC.

Tory MP Stewart Jackson, a member of the House of Commons' public accounts committee, said yesterday: "The BBC seems to have learned nothing from the recent exposure of its largesse and profligacy with licence fee-payers cash and culture of corporate greed and cronyism.

"If this is the case, I will press for the senior management and trust board to return to the public accounts committee and fully account for this inappropriate expenditure."