Eddie Mair has said he offered to take a pay cut while working at the BBC, and insisted he did not leave because of “pay problems”.
The broadcaster, who is leaving the corporation after more than 30 years and will now host a new programme at LBC, was reported to have refused to take a cut in salary in the wake of the BBC’s gender pay dispute.
Mair was revealed last year to be one of the BBC’s top earners, with a salary between £300,000 and £349,999, and his male colleagues – including John Humphrys, Huw Edwards and Jon Sopel – have now agreed to pay cuts.
Mair said it “tickled” him that he was “apparently refusing” to reduce his own salary.
He wrote in the Radio Times: “None of my thinking has been influenced by the BBC’s pay problems. I’d offered, in writing, to take a cut.
“The first article appeared before we’d even discussed pay, and later it was said I was staying off work in some kind of protest: in fact, as RT readers know, I was in hospital trying to avoid sepsis.”
Mair, 52, said the BBC “begged” him to “please go sooner” after he revealed his plans to leave.
“But I insisted on working my notice,” he added.
He said that “another employer came along” a year ago, before the salaries of top BBC talent earning more than £150,000 were revealed.
“Whenever anyone leaves a job, people ask ‘Did they jump or were they pushed?’” Mair wrote.
“There can be a lot of truth hidden behind gushing statements.
“Honestly, this was my choice and the main driving force behind it was a desire to do something a little different after 20 years in one job.”
He said he has “seen better broadcasters than me come to a premature end, including Nick Clarke. Steve Hewlett. Howard Philpott”, adding that they were “all silenced long before their time”.
“I’ve no reason to believe I’ll be next but it’s always later than you think.
“I didn’t want to be counting the days to retirement. Maybe I should give something else a whirl while I still can.”
Mair will relinquish the helm of the PM flagship evening news programme on August 17, and will take up his new role at the commercial talk radio station in September.
He announced he was leaving the BBC on Sunday, telling listeners: “It’s 31 years since I joined the BBC, 25 years since I first presented PM, and 20 since it became my main gig.
“I thought this was the appropriate moment to step out and give someone else a chance, before I’m so old my sentences make no lasagne.”
Mair joined PM as a regular co-host in 1998 and became the programme’s sole presenter in 2003.
He has won the Sony Awards for Speech Broadcaster of the Year and News Journalist of the Year – and helped the programme to win a Sony Gold award in the Interactive category in 2007.
Mair also won a Sony Gold in 2012 for his interview with Julie Nicholson, who lost her daughter Jenny in the London bombings of July 7 2005.