Naga Munchetty has been rapped by BBC bosses after appearing in a business interview series for NatWest.
The BBC Breakfast presenter, who earns up to £195,000 per year, hosted webinars for the banking giant weeks after she was rebuked for fronting a paid corporate video for car maker Aston Martin.
She already appears to have antagonised new director general Tim Davie, who has launched a radical shake-up of the national broadcaster to dispel accusations of partiality.
The BBC told MailOnline Munchetty has been warned the gig ‘could be seen as a conflict of interest and will be kept in mind for future editorial decisions.’
In the videos, ‘In Conversation With…’, the presenter speaks to high profile guests including former politician Ed Balls, the captain of England’s cricket team Eoin Morgan, and perfume entrepreneur Jo Malone.
The videos come to light after Davie unveiled his bold manifesto in his debut speech last week, warning: ‘If you want to be an opinionated columnist or a partisan campaigner on social media then that is a valid choice, but you should not be working at the BBC.’
He said there would be ‘clearer direction on the declaration of external interests’ following concerns that news stars had risked undermining impartiality at the BBC with their corporate work. He added that the BBC should be ‘utterly impartial’.
While the videos were filmed before Davie took up the post, BBC insiders are reportedly ‘furious’ about Munchetty’s external engagements.
Naga Munchetty (left) was already in hot water after appearing in the corporate promo video for Aston Martin (pictured), with BBC bosses saying she may have once more put the broadcaster’s impartiality at risk
One source told the Sun: ‘How can she remain impartial if she’s doing corporate gigs for a banking giant in her free time?
‘What happens if there’s a financial story she has to discuss on the sofa, it’s an impossible situation.’
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘Since this event, Naga has been reminded of the risk of conflict of interest when undergoing external engagements.
‘We are developing clearer direction in this area as part of our wider work on impartiality and will have more to say on that in due course.’
Last month, Munchetty hosted a webinar video for the luxury carmaker without gaining approval from her employer or declaring her fee, sources have told i.
The video played up how Aston Martin was ‘engaging and assisting employees’ during the coronavirus crisis despite the company’s plans to cut 500 jobs – a fifth of its workforce.
Its chief executive Andy Palmer was fired after the company’s share price plummeted and falling sales lead to a £227m loss.
The title screenshot of the Aston Martin corporate video Naga Munchetty took part in. During the video, Freedman says the company initially put 75% of its staff on furlough to protect the company’s bottom line: ‘There was uncertainty for us when we were having to make those decisions’
BBC bosses have told Munchetty that she risked a ‘conflict of interest’ and potentially jeopardised the BBC’s impartiality, since she could be asked to discuss Aston Martin’s financial troubles on air.
The BBC’s spokesperson advised that its editorial guidelines allow journalists to carry out external speaking, or chairing at private engagements as long as they maintain objectivity and impartiality.
‘On this occasion, as the event was public facing, we have advised Naga that this could be seen as a conflict of interest and this will be kept in mind for future editorial decisions.’
The BBC Breakfast presenter earns up to £195,000 per year
From saying TV licence is ‘worth the money’ to grilling Professor Green… how Naga Munchetty is no stranger to controversy
September 2020: Munchetty is warned again about Moonlighting, this time for Natwest, and is warned by the BBC the gig ‘could be seen as a conflict of interest and will be kept in mind for future editorial decisions.’
August 2020: Munchetty is hauled before BBC bosses and ‘reminded’ about ‘conflicts of interest’ after sparking a fresh impartiality row by moonlighting on a corporate video for Aston Martin.
July 2020: Munchetty was blasted by Twitter uses over her six-figure salary after saying that it was ‘worth it’. ‘We’re there to provide a service and make sure people are informed, educated and entertained. I think a licence is worth that,’ she said.
June 2020: Munchetty said broadcasters were not ‘robots’ and should do more than ‘blankly’ read the news. Her comments followed furore over the actions of fellow BBC presented Emily Maitlis who was accused of violating the BBC’s impartiality guidelines after she delivered a highly critical monologue about the Dominic Cummings lockdown controversy during an episode of Newsnight.
October 2019: Munchetty received more than 300 viewer complaints after grilling rapper Professor Green and Tory MP James Cleverly on Breakfast. Audiences were unhappy about her putting the screws to Cleverly and that she mocked Professor Green as he tried his hand at weather presenting.
In the webinar, titled ‘Road To Resilience: How Aston Martin is protecting and engaging their employees and customers’, Munchetty asks Aston Martin’s vice president and chief marketing officer Peter Freedman how the car maker has ‘reacted to this challenging and rapidly changing landscape by protecting and engaging their employees, communities and customers’.
Freedman explained the company had, at one point, placed 75% of its staff on furlough.
Munchetty asked: ‘What reassurances do they have now when it comes to their future… with Aston Martin?’
Freedman answered: ‘We wanted to give confidence to people that we’re furloughing them because there’s a lot of uncertainty, we need to protect ourselves as a business and ultimately we needed to ensure our costs were at a manageable stage, because nobody at that point knew when those restrictions were going to lift.
‘There was uncertainty for us when we were having to make those decisions.’
Conflicts of interest: The BBC stars topping up their salaries as they cash in with huge payouts from banks and car giants
JON SOPEL: BBC presenter Jon Sopel last year sparked a conflict of interest row after accepting tens of thousands of pounds from the biggest bank on Wall Street.
Mr Sopel, 60, is paid up to £245,000 a year in his role as the broadcaster’s North America Editor, covering all aspects of US news including politics, policy and business.
But the presenter boosted his pay by speaking at a string of JP Morgan events – despite it posing an apparent conflict of interest.
The bank is involved in nearly all aspects of American business, including highly controversial investments in the gun industry and fracking – both issues covered by Mr Sopel.
Mr Sopel presided over two sessions at JP Morgan’s Global Markets Conference in Paris in 2017 – which included an interview with Mr Dimon.
And in 2016, Mr Sopel appeared at JP Morgan’s Board Summit in New York, where he interviewed a former president of the European Commission about what Brexit ‘means for global business’.
Sources say he was paid around £35,000 for the Paris conference – roughly the average British annual salary. He is thought to have received around £20,000 for the New York event.
He is also known to have hosted other JP Morgan events, but the bank and Mr Sopel’s agent Mary Greenham declined to comment.
Miss Greenham said: ‘He has done events for JP Morgan and the BBC are aware of this.’
Earlier in 2019, he spoke at an event by Philip Morris International, the world’s biggest tobacco company.
Mr Sopel lives in Washington with his wife, but keeps a four-bedroom house in Hampstead worth more than £2million and a £1.2million flat in London’s Belsize Park.