Presenter wins sex discrimination case against BBC

Newswatch’s Samira Ahmed should have been paid the same as presenter Jeremy Vine

 Journalist, writer and broadcaster Samira Ahmed  has won her sex discrimination equal pay claim against the BBC, a judge at the London Central Employment Tribunal has ruled. Photograph:  Yui Mok/PA Wire

Journalist, writer and broadcaster Samira Ahmed has won her sex discrimination equal pay claim against the BBC, a judge at the London Central Employment Tribunal has ruled. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

 

Broadcaster Samira Ahmed has won her sex discrimination equal pay claim against the BBC.

In a unanimous judgment published on Friday, an employment tribunal in London found that the Newswatch presenter should have been paid the same as fellow presenter Jeremy Vine.

Ms Ahmed asked why she was paid £465 per episode of Newswatch while Vine was paid up to £3,000 for each episode of Points Of View, work she described as comparable.

Opposing her claim, the BBC argued that the two presenters were not doing similar work.

The corporation said Newswatch was a “relatively niche” programme which aired on the BBC News channel, while describing Points Of View as “extremely well-known”.

Ms Ahmed said in a statement issued through the National Union Of Journalists (NUJ) that she was “glad” the issue had been resolved.

She said: “No woman wants to have to take action against their own employer. I love working for the BBC. I’m glad it’s been resolved.

“I’d like to thank my union, the NUJ — especially Michelle Stanistreet, the general secretary; my legal team — Caroline Underhill of Thompsons Solicitors, and my barrister Claire Darwin; and everyone — all the men and women who’ve supported me and the issue of equal pay.

“I’m now looking forward to continuing to do my job, to report on stories and not being one.”

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “It was an incredibly brave decision on Samira’s part to take forward this case. No-one wants to battle their employer in a public tribunal hearing, but the BBC’s failure to meaningfully negotiate made legal proceedings inevitable.

“For the BBC this became a battle over the differences, as they saw it, between their internal divisional silos of News and Entertainment.

“For the NUJ, this was simply a case of two roles that were commensurate, on two programmes that were supremely comparable, carried out by two high-profile experienced presenters.”

A statement from the BBC said: “Samira Ahmed is an excellent journalist and presenter and we regret that this case ever had to go to tribunal.

“We’re committed to equality and equal pay. Where we’ve found equal pay cases in the past, we’ve put them right. However, for us, this case was never about one person, but the way different types of programmes across the media industry attract different levels of pay.”

The statement said the BBC has “always believed that the pay of Samira and Jeremy Vine was not determined by their gender”.

“Presenters — female as well as male — had always been paid more on Points Of View than Newswatch.

“We’re sorry the tribunal didn’t think the BBC provided enough evidence about specific decisions — we weren’t able to call people who made decisions as far back as 2008 and have long since left the BBC.”

The corporation said in the past its “pay framework was not transparent and fair enough, and we have made significant changes to address that”.

“We’re glad this satisfied the tribunal that there was sufficient evidence to explain her pay now.

“We’ll need to consider this judgment carefully. We know tribunals are never a pleasant experience for anyone involved. We want to work together with Samira to move on in a positive way.”

BBC Radio 4 presenter Jane Garvey praised Ms Ahmed on Twitter, writing: “Just brilliant SamiraAhmedUK — it took real courage and she has it. #equalpay.”

Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “Congrats SamiraAhmedUK. Equal work deserves equal pay.”

Ms Ahmed has been among the female talents at the BBC to voice their concerns over pay equality following the outcry over former China editor Carrie Gracie’s salary.