By Oliver Farrimond
SCOTS BBC presenter Carrie Gracie came under fire live on-air yesterday in a heated exchange with Labour peer Lord Foulkes.
The Bahrain-born Scots journalist became embroiled in an expenses row of her own after Lord Foulkes demanded she divulge her £92,000-a-year salary during a live interview on BBC News 24 about the MPs expenses scandal.
After interrupting the peer to ask if he thought MPs should pay back their expense claims, Lord Foulkes fired back: “You never focus on the hard work MPs do in their constituencies – they’re paid £64,000.
“How much are you paid out of the license fee for being on television, harassing members of Parliament and other people?”
Shocked at the £92,000 figure, he then went on to slam other highly paid journalists, including John Humphries and Jeremy Paxman for “sneering at and undermining democracy”.
Gracie, who was briefly educated at Edinburgh University before dropping out to manage a restaurant, replied: “Every single call I make from my own phone – I would never make a personal call from the BBC because I understand what public sector money is about.”
The row follows the latest revelations of MPs expenses to be published by the Daily Telegraph, which has released further details of Conservative MPs claims today.
The reports, based on leaked receipts, say that other MPs claimed for the cost of clearing a moat, buying horse manure and mowing paddocks.
Despite growing public anger over the expenses, Lord Foulkes is the latest in an increasingly loud chorus of voices condemning media coverage of the MP expenses scandal.
In an interview with BBC’s Newsnight, author and comedian Stephen Fry said: “For journalists to go on about snouts in troughs is almost beyond belief.
“I know lots of journalists, and I’ve never met a more venal and disgusting crowd when it comes to expenses and allowances.
“Let’s not confuse what politicians get really wrong with the tedious, bourgeois obsession with whether or not they’ve charged for their wisteria.
“It isn’t that important, and the idea that we’ve all lost faith in politics is nonsense – it’s a journalistic made-up frenzy.”