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ITV presenter Lisa Aziz suspended

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: July 10, 2009

ITV presenter Lisa Aziz

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ITV West presenter Lisa Aziz has been suspended for allegedly fiddling her expenses.

One of the claims was apparently a £5.75 bill for dry cleaning a child's top.

The 47-year-old presenter has not been seen hosting nightly news programme West Country Tonight for the past month.

ITV will say only that she has been off work for personal reasons.

But sources close to Ms Aziz say the £150,000-a-year presenter has been suspended over allegations that she made seven wrongful expense claims.

One of these was allegedly for cleaning the child's top. Sources close to Ms Aziz say she later got a statement from the dry cleaners to say the top was hers.

Friends say Ms Aziz has been allowed to claim for dry cleaning as well as hair and beauty products since joining the company in 2005.

They say no claim she had made during almost four years had been refused or even challenged.

It is understood that managers at the station in Bath Road confronted her with the allegations about her expenses during a meeting called to discuss editing a piece on terrorism.

Ms Aziz has been suspended while the accusations of gross misconduct are investigated.

Her place on the nightly news programme, which is broadcast across an area stretching from Gloucestershire to Cornwall, has been taken by two younger presenters, Claire Manning and Ellie Barker.

Ms Aziz is understood to have begun legal action against ITV, although she has refused to comment to the Post.

We have approached her on several occasions in the past three weeks and she said she was away with tendonitis, insisting there was "nothing sinister" about her absence from the programme.

It is alleged that ITV breached its own employment procedures by giving her no proper chance to respond to the claims of expenses fiddling.

Ms Aziz previously worked for Sky News and was the first Asian news presenter on mainstream TV.

A Muslim herself, she had been working for six weeks on a programme about Andrew Ibrahim, the Bristol student on trial for terrorist offences, and was called to a meeting about how the footage was to be edited.

It was apparently during that meeting with head of news Liz Hannam and a man that the expenses allegations were made.

ITV declined to comment when the Post put details of the allegations facing Ms Aziz to the company yesterday.

A spokesman said: "Lisa is currently off work for personal reasons."

Ms Aziz began her television career in Bristol in 1983 at the BBC and then as a reporter and presenter with HTV West.

In 1989, she became the face of TV-am news, replacing Gordon Honeycombe as regular newscaster.

She had worked briefly as a reporter for TV-am after leaving HTV West and then joined Sky News in 1992 to continue fronting their bulletins for TV-am.

The presenter won an EMMA Best Television News Journalist award in 2004.

She remained with Sky until 2005, when she moved to present ITV West's regional news programme from Bristol.

Earlier this year it was merged with ITV West Country, which covered Devon, Cornwall and south Dorset.

The new combined programme covers news items from both regions but includes a segment where localised broadcasts are dedicated to stories from the pre-merger transmission areas.

More than 80 staff lost their jobs in the merger, which was part of a national strategy to scale down ITV's regional news service.

Among them was Jed Pitman, who used to present some editions of The West Tonight with Ms Aziz, as well as sports programmes.

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    Aaron James, Bodmin, Cornwall  |  July 19 2009, 5:58PM

    I really dont give a hoot about ITV news anymore. Id rather they brought back the brilliant Richard Bath and Alexis Bowater myself.

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    Wanda, Stroud  |  July 12 2009, 10:52PM

    It sounds to me as though they want to get rid of her and are using expenses as an excuse. I really don't see why people on such high salaries should also be allowed to claim expenses though. Many people are struggling to finance their journeys to work and can't claim a penny for anything.

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    Paul, Cheltenham  |  July 12 2009, 9:09PM

    The Mail is reporting her salary as £200K. Makes the BBC news 24 presenter Carrie Gracie who admitted to Lord Foulkes, during a live television discussion of MP¿s expenses, that she was paid £92,000 seem rather under paid now...

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    Kay Powell, Tredworth  |  July 12 2009, 6:39PM

    This is as much sexism as ageism. No-one seems to think that male presenters are paid too much or that they should be forced out of their jobs when they reach middle age. By the way, Private Eye had this story last week, and they seem to think that the allegations are unfounded.

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    Tasty Fish, Abbeymead, Gloucestershire  |  July 10 2009, 11:54PM

    £150,000 a year for a presenter of a regional show that nobody watches? No wonder ITV's down the pan. But I agree with Nikos, I'd pay to do her laundry ;)

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    Mr Aziz, Long 11's  |  July 10 2009, 8:19PM

    Who cares, rubbish story

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    martin, chelt  |  July 10 2009, 7:47PM

    150K to be a presenter, seems like an awful lot of money, even without expenses. worlds gone mad.

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    chris, glos  |  July 10 2009, 6:20PM

    She gets paid £150,000 and yet shes allowed to claim for expenses, has the world gone mad, she can afford to get a childs top dry cleaned, she even claimed for hair and beauty products,

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    John, Glos.  |  July 10 2009, 3:19PM

    Sure, Lisa is a character all in her own right and all that better for being real and not a substitute figure for someone else. Sounds more like ageism is rearing it¿s ugly head once more on the telly. Keep in mind Seleina Scott, Moria Stuart and the finest journalist of all time Kate Adie from the BBC. Time to listen to the radio we are tired of frogspawn chicks reading auto cue. Give us back real journalists like Stephanie Flanders and Kate Adie.

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    Nikos, Chelt  |  July 10 2009, 3:04PM

    Well i must say i would wash her "smalls" for free !!!!