LONDON (AP) — The former director of the BBC has defended his tenure in front of lawmakers probing a row over oversized executive payoffs.

Mark Thompson, now chief executive of The New York Times Co., told Parliament's Public Accounts Committee the payoffs were "value for money" for the corporation over the long term.

The BBC has been criticized for paying 25 million pounds ($39 million) to outgoing senior staff, about 2 million pounds more than their contracts required.

The payoffs have sparked a war of words between Thompson and other BBC bosses who appeared before lawmakers for questioning Monday.

Thompson accused BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten of misleading lawmakers with claims he did not know about the issue — an accusation Patten rejected.

Thompson left BBC last year for his new role.