The botched DMI cost nearly �100m

Former BBC technology officer grilled by MPs

The BBC's former chief technology officer has been accused of trying to dodge the blame over the organisation’s £100m Digital Media Initiative fiasco.

John Linwood was accused of "avoiding key meetings" about the scheme, which was scrapped at the cost of £98.4m since it started in 2008 after bosses decided that continuing would be "throwing good money after bad".

Linwood is one of a handful of current and former BBC employees, including former director-general Mark Thompson, giving evidence to the Public Affairs Committee about the scheme's failure.

Committee member Richard Bacon MP told Mr Linwood: "You were known inside the BBC for avoiding key meetings so you could say you weren't there."

Linwood told the panel he was "not responsible" for drawing up "the business case" for the project which he said was already "behind track" when he started work on it.

He said: "When I joined the BBC the project was running 18 months to two years behind track."

The scheme – an attempt to create an integrated digital production and archiving system – was scrapped by current director-general Tony Hall in his first weeks in the job.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO), published last week, was heavily critical of the scheme and said the BBC Executive "did not have sufficient grip" on the IT project and did not properly assess the system to see whether it was "technically sound".

DMI was meant to allow staff to handle all aspects of video and audio content from their desks, but after years of difficulties – during which £125.9m was ploughed into it – the plug was pulled last year leaving a net cost of £98.4 million.

It emerged last week that Linwood, who was paid a salary of £280,000, was sacked weeks after being suspended over the multi-million-pound failure last May, but he said Hall had been too hasty in writing off "tens of millions" of pounds of IT equipment.

He told the committee: "They wrote off software that was working and they wrote off infrastructure that was working. They were written off because the business decided not to use them."

Asked about previous evidence where he said DMI was working well, former director-general Thompson told the committee: "I don't believe I have misled you on any other matter and I don't believe I misled you knowingly on this one".

He said it "failed as a project" and added he "wanted to say sorry" for the waste of public money. However, he told the committee his evidence was "a faithful and accurate account of my understanding of the project at that point".

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