Newswatch presenter Samira Ahmed has won her landmark sex discrimination and equal pay claim against the BBC who paid her significantly less than Jeremy Vine for doing practically same job on a rival show. The 51-year-old took the broadcaster to a tribunal over her contracts on the programme Newswatch, which she has presented since 2012, and proved she was unfairly paid less than her male peers. She argued that her equal pay competitor Jeremy Vine, who worked on Points of View between 2008 and 2018, was paid £3,000 per episode, whereas she received £440 for her own show. In response, the BBC argued that the two presenters were not doing similar work. The corporation said that Newswatch was "relatively niche", while Points Of View was "extremely well-known".
An employment tribunal unanimously concluded that the BBC had failed to provide convincing evidence that the pay gap was for reasons other than gender discrimination, although the BBC continues to dispute this. The report from Judge Harjit Grewal and the panel members, S Godecharle and P Secher, concluded that under the Equality Act the BBC “has not shown that the difference in pay was because of a material factor which did not involve subjecting [Ahmed] to sex discrimination”.
Following the verdict, Ahmed 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 National Union of Journalists - 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 said there were about 20 other cases involving claims of unequal pay at the BBC heading to tribunal, while another 70 cases remained unresolved. But she said BBC executives had shown a new willingness to resolve outstanding cases after Ahmed’s tribunal.
A statement from the BBC said: "Samira Ahmed is an excellent journalist and presenter and we regret that this case 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. 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.