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New RTE boss will pay for flights home to UK

INCOMING RTE news boss Kevin Bakhurst is to pay for his own weekend flights home to Britain.

The father-of-three leaves his post at the head of BBC newsroom today to take up a challenging top role in RTE next week.

The former controller of the BBC News channel has a major job on his hands -- grappling with the cash-strapped broadcaster in the midst of extremely low morale.

Mr Bakhurst (46) plans to commute home at the weekend, but a spokesperson for RTE confirmed that this tab would not be picked up by the licence-payer.

"Mr Bakhurst may travel home at the weekend, but this will be paid for by himself," they said.

Mr Bakhurst comes in as managing director of news and current affairs, the post vacated by Ed Mulhall in the aftermath of the defamatory Prime Time Investigates programme.

He built up a reputation as a cost-cutter in his previous job and will have to work on rebuilding lost confidence at RTE.

He started his career as a researcher in the BBC business unit in 1989 but moved on to become a producer of the Nine O'Clock News within just one year.

When it was announced that he would be taking up the position, several RTE personalities such as Miriam O'Callaghan bombarded him with messages of congratulations.


Meanwhile the BBC l threw a "classic" leaving party for Mr Bakhurst, according to those on the guest list.

Irish journalist and BBC foreign correspondent Fergal Keane was one of those invited to the bash.

"A great farewell party for a great journalist," he said online yesterday.

"Much praise and laughter at the goodbye do for Kevin Bakhurst tonight," he added.

His former colleagues said that the party was a way to remember his "editorial skill" and it was BBC's loss and RTE's gain.

Head of news at BBC, Stephen Mawhinney, said that he was sorry to see the news executive go.

"With many others, I spent the evening bidding a fond farewell to Kevin Bakhurst," he said.

"I owe him a lot and will miss his comradeship hugely."