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Alan Yentob has stepped down as creative director at the BBC amid controversy surrounding his role as chair of failed charity Kids Company.

Yentob will continue to make and present programmes at the BBC, but relinquishes the £183,300 a year role he has held since 2004.

In a statement Yentob said the BBC is going through “particularly challenging times”, and speculation about Kids Company and coverage of his role at the charity is proving a “serious distraction”.

Questions had also arisen over whether Yentob had sought to influence the BBC’s coverage of Kids Company, in particular around a phone call he made to Newsnight in July as the programme prepared to run a story on the charity’s funding.

However, BBC director general Tony Hall said the broadcaster had concluded Yentob had not influenced its news coverage.

“I have spoken to Tony Hall and told him that I think it best that I step down from my senior management role as creative director at the end of this year and focus on programme making and TV production - including of course the Imagine series,” Yentob said. “I will also continue supporting Christine Langan and her team as Chairman of BBC Films.”

Hall said Yentob is a “towering figure” in television and the arts and has served the BBC with distinction across a number of different executive roles.

“I understand his reasons for stepping down as creative director. He has been thinking about this carefully for some time and we have discussed it privately on a number of occasions,” he said. “I am pleased that Alan will be continuing his brilliant work as a programme maker at the BBC in the future.”

Kids Company closed in early August citing insufficient funds to continue trading, having received at least £46m in public funding over its 19-year existence. The charity closed a week after receiving a £3m emergency grant which followed a £4.3m lump sum granted in April.

Questions have been raised about the governance and financial management at the charity, including around the lack of reserves and contingency planning at the organisation.

Appearing alongside former chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh at a Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry last month, Yentob said that the charity had largely been well run during his tenure as chair.

However, it struck difficulty from 2014 and a restructure put in place to put the charity on stable footing had begun too late, he said.

 

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