The BBC’s star regional news presenter has effectively been sacked after it emerged an investigation is underway into her tax arrangements.
It is understood Christa Ackroyd, who has anchored Look North for 12 years, had her contract terminated by the BBC over concerns the freelance broadcaster had not been frank about the inquiry. She was contractually obliged to inform the BBC of anything which had the potential to cause reputational damage to the corporation.
A BBC spokeswoman confirmed Ms Ackroyd’s deal, worth around £180,000 a year, had been brought to a premature end because of a “breach of contract”.
Ms Ackroyd, who last appeared on Look North on February 28, declined to comment when asked about the investigation into her tax affairs.
HM Revenue and Customs said it does not comment on individual cases.
A BBC spokeswoman said: “We consider there had been breach of contract and we have now brought the contract to an end.
“We are unable to go into the reasons at this time.”
Ms Ackroyd has been paid around £60,000 over the last four months despite being kept
off air by the BBC for what it described as “editorial reasons”.
Her current freelance contract had several months to run.
The presenter is paid through her company, Christa Ackroyd Media, which would be responsible for payment of tax. It is not known what issues HMRC are investigating.
Ms Ackroyd has received in the region of £2m from the BBC since joining Look North from rival ITV regional news programme Calendar in 2001.
She was initially paid around £120,000 a year but the BBC dramatically enhanced the deal in 2004 when – due to concerns about journalisic impartiality – the corporation required her to give up a lucrative comment column she wrote for the Sunday Express.
Staff were told of Ms Ackroyd’s departure by email and at a meeting by head of BBC Yorkshire Helen Thomas.
A BBC insider said Ms Thomas had told staff “Look North is bigger than any one presenter” and added that staff had been expecting Ms Ackroyd to leave.
When Look North broadcast a tribute to Harry Gration to mark his MBE last month, Ms Ackroyd was competely absent from a lengthy video montage despite the duo co-presenting for more than a decade.
In a statement, Ms Ackroyd said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my 12 years at BBC Look North.
“I wish all my colleagues there all the very best for the future. They are a dedicated and talented team and I’ve been proud to work alongside them – particularly with my friend of many years, Harry Gration.
“I look forward to the next phase as a Yorkshire journalist of more than 30 years standing.”