Friday 17 January 2020

Carrie Gracie hails Samira Ahmed over BBC equal pay dispute

The Newswatch presenter has been praised for her courage in taking on the BBC over an equal pay claim.

Carrie Gracie hailed ‘courageous’ Samira Ahmed over her BBC equal pay battle (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Carrie Gracie hailed ‘courageous’ Samira Ahmed over her BBC equal pay battle (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Samira Ahmed has been praised by Carrie Gracie and others at the BBC for having the courage to go up against the corporation in an equal pay dispute.

An employment tribunal in London unanimously found that Newswatch presenter Ms Ahmed should have been paid the same as fellow presenter Jeremy Vine after she took the broadcaster to court in the high-profile case.

Former China editor Ms Gracie was among those praising Ms Ahmed following the judgment on Friday.

She tweeted: “@SamiraAhmedUK I could not be more proud of you… and all the #bbcwomen at your back. 2020 is the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act and I hope your victory gives courage to women everywhere to stand up for the value of their work.

“As for #BBC bosses, time to stop digging.”

Ms Gracie became a figurehead for other women at the BBC when she resigned from her position as China editor in January 2018 in protest at pay inequalities at the broadcaster.

Her move came after the BBC published the salaries of its highest earners in July 2017 under the terms of its new royal charter, which revealed that only one third of the list of talent earning more than £150,000 were women, with all the top names being men.

Ms Gracie also praised the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and “the great legal team who helped #SamiraAhmedUK to victory” in the landmark case.

BBC Radio 4 presenter Jane Garvey, who has openly supported Ms Ahmed throughout proceedings, tweeted: “Just brilliant @SamiraAhmedUK – it took real courage and she has it. #equalpay.”

BBC Radio 4 presenter Aasmah Mir tweeted that “we knew you were right”, adding: “Proud to stand next to you again today.”

Novelist Margaret Atwood also congratulated Ms Ahmed for her victory on Twitter alongside Labour MP David Lammy, who added that “equal work deserves equal pay”.

Ms Ahmed had 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 that Newswatch was a “relatively niche” programme which aired on the BBC News channel, while describing Points Of View as “extremely well-known”.

Since the ruling, the BBC said: “We have 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.”

Ms Ahmed is one of a number of female talents at the BBC to voice their concerns over pay equality following the outcry over Ms Gracie’s salary.

PA Media

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