Martin Bashir has not been suspended from his BBC job because it costs the corporation less to keep him on sick pay, The Telegraph understands.
Mr Bashir, 57, is under investigation in a judge-led inquiry over how he obtained an interview with Princess Diana 25 years ago.
Mr Bashir has been on sick leave after undergoing a quadruple heart bypass in September. He first fell ill with heart problems in August, and last month was reported as being seriously ill with Covid-related complications.
Mr Bashir has insisted he remains too sick to speak out publicly in defence of his reputation, having been accused of faking bank statements to help him secure the interview for BBC’s Panorama that remains one of the corporation’s greatest scoops.
The Telegraph understands that Mr Bashir has not been suspended, pending the outcome of the inquiry, because that would mean bosses would have to agree to pay his salary in full. Under the terms of the BBC’s health and sickness absence policy, staff signed off sick receive their full pay for the first 18 weeks, reduced to half pay for nine weeks “in a rolling 12-month period”.
In the case of Mr Bashir, it is thought he is now on half pay, having been off work for a total of 18 weeks since first having contracted Covid-19 followed by the operation for the bypass. After a further nine weeks on half pay, he is entitled under the BBC’s policy to receive only the Government’s statutory sick of £95.85 a week – far less than his weekly pay packet.
Mr Bashir’s salary is not known but does not feature on the list of BBC ‘talent’ which the corporation is obliged to publish annually, meaning that in the year 2018-2019, he was paid less than £150,000. Having been appointed to the prestigious post of BBC religious affairs editor after returning to the corporation in 2016, he is likely to be on a six-figure salary.
If the BBC suspended Mr Bashir they would have to pay him his salary in full.