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Broadcaster Donates To Charity
Broadcaster Lesley Riddoch has donated £1,320 to Lanarkshire Women’s Aid after she accepted the payment to host a poverty conference.
The journalist made the gesture after admitting she may have made an error of judgment in pocketing the bumper payment.
The fee - revealed in a Freedom of Information request was paid by South Lanarkshire Council for Riddoch to present a conference on poverty in 2013.
In her blog, Riddoch says: “As a result, I’ve decided to pay £1320 to South Lanarkshire Women’s Aid. I think I should have regarded the event as a charitable one – even though it was arranged by a council.
“I standardly charge £250 per day for charitable groups (if they have a budget) but I’ve made no charge for most of the 200 plus events I’ve spoken at over the last two years, some related to the indyref but most on housing, welfare, renewable energy and poverty.
“I usually ask £20 for petrol. I am self-employed and no-one else covers the costs of my time. Very often I am the only non-salaried person in the room at professional events and that’s why any fee shows up – others are present as part of their job and their expenses are paid by employers.
“The sum paid by South Lanarkshire represents almost half of my annual earnings from conference work.
“It’s always worth putting individual payments into perspective, it’s always worth remembering sums include mileage and VAT which businesses have no option but to levy -- and it’s always worth supporting Women’s Aid.”
UPDATE TO INACCURACY IN STORY
For clarification and honesty Across Lanarkshire would like to make it clear that Lesley Riddoch was paid £850 to chair a South Lanarkshire poverty conference – not the £1320 stated in the above story.
Across Lanarkshire gets its news stories from the local publications in the county and we are relying on good reporting for accurate information.
The story came about after a reporter asked for a Freedom of Information request but the broadcaster has had a chance to check back on her accounts and found the information to the story to be inaccurate.
Across Lanarkshire apologise to Ms Riddoch for any inconvenience and distress caused by the story lifted from a local newspaper.
Since the initial story, Ms Riddoch has donated £1320 to South Lanarkshire Women’s Aid.
Ms Riddoch said: “The sum was negotiated between an agent who books speakers and the council. He was paid the £1320 – not me.
“He took his fee and VAT, which he is legally obliged to charge, from the total.
“The sum I was paid was £850 plus expenses of £80 – mostly mileage calculated at the standard council rate of 45p a mile for a 142-mile return journey from my home.
“In hindsight, I think £850 was still too much to be paid for a one-day conference on poverty.
“I should have charged my standard rate for charitable events of £250 for a day’s work – even though the speech I gave (with slides) took a full day’s preparation, half a day boning up on the conference itself and another day travelling there and back home to chair it.
“In the past I’ve managed to catch ‘overpayments’ like this, but since fees are negotiated between the client and an agent it’s very easy to miss. Still, that was my mistake.
“I have since donated the full sum to South Lanarkshire Women’s Aid, who have a myriad of good uses for the cash.
“There are two larger points to make. I am self-employed and very often the only non-salaried person in the room at professional and even charitable events.
“That’s why any fee will show up as a conference expense while other speakers present are there as part of their job and expenses are paid by employers. No one else covers the costs of time or travel for the self-employed.
“Secondly, the vast bulk of my time is spent racing about Scotland doing talks to all sorts of voluntary and charitable groups on the themes of welfare, housing, poverty, renewable energy and local democracy.
“I make no charge for these events – more than 200 of them in the past 18 months – but usually ask £20 for petrol.”