THE BBC has been criticised for not explaining the absence of Look North presenter Christa Ackroyd from the air.

Ms Ackroyd has not been seen on the flagship news programme for seven weeks, but despite her absence is still reportedly being paid a salary, with reports varying between £100,000 to more than £200,000 a year.

The BBC said it would not discuss how Ms Ackroyd is paid amid rumours of a disagreement over her freelance status when she is essentially employed full-time.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Many Look North viewers will find it bizarre that one of the permanent faces of the show has been employed on a freelance basis for over a decade.

“BBC bosses have rightly had to face the music over off-payroll arrangements for presenters and they must be totally transparent in dealing with the issue.

“The BBC has a duty to show how it spends licence fee payers’ money, yet the continued non-answers from the corporation over the popular presenter’s absence raises questions about how it is doing just that.”

A BBC spokesman said: “Christa is still working for the BBC, but is currently off air.

“The BBC does not discuss an individual’s contractual arrangements or matters relating to internal staffing.

“We cannot discuss individual salaries but talent pay has come down by £18.5m over the past two years.”