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BBC has failed to act on gender pay disparities, Labour says

Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson threw his support behind Carrie Gracie.


Tom Watson (Stefan Rousseau/PA

Tom Watson (Stefan Rousseau/PA

Tom Watson (Stefan Rousseau/PA

BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall has failed to inspire confidence the corporation recognises problems over gender pay disparities, shadow culture secretary Tom Watson has said.

Lord Hall faced MPs on the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee as the BBC came under scrutiny in the row over equal pay.

The deputy Labour leader offered his support to BBC journalist Carrie Gracie who also appeared in front of MPs on Wednesday following her resignation as China editor after learning she earned less than her male equivalents.

Mr Watson said: “The appearance of Lord Hall and other senior BBC managers did not give confidence that the BBC has fully recognised the problems that existed or proposed adequate systems going forward.

“They have known about gender pay disparities for a long time and have failed to act.”

He said Gracie’s “powerful testimony today portrayed a BBC with broken pay and employment practices that has produced an unacceptable atmosphere of distrust and grievance among BBC staff.

“Carrie’s bravery in speaking out will aid undervalued and underpaid women across the BBC.

“Her testimony must spur other broadcasters to look inwards and get their own house in order too. Time must be up on gender pay gaps everywhere, not just the BBC.”

“To call the disparities ‘inadvertent’ or oversights is not good enough,” Mr Watson said, adding a BBC commissioned report was “understandably” being regarded as a whitewash after failing to talk to affected staff.

Fellow Labour MP Harriet Harman also backed Gracie and said her appearance would spur change not just at the BBC but “for all women at work”.

“Heartfelt, compelling words from @BBCCarrie at @CommonsCMS select committee. Thank you Carrie for speaking so clearly about pay injustice,” she wrote on Twitter.

Conservative MP Julian Knight hit out at the BBC over claims by Gracie they had explained her lower salary as being because she had been “in development” in the role.

“For the BBC to describe Carrie Gracie, a journalist of thirty years standing, as being ‘In development’ is one of the most incredible things I have ever heard,” Mr Knight posted on Twitter.

PA Media