Journalist Samira Ahmed on April 9 2017 in London, UK. File picture: TABATHA FIREMAN/GETTY IMAGES
Journalist Samira Ahmed on April 9 2017 in London, UK. File picture: TABATHA FIREMAN/GETTY IMAGES

London — A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) presenter who accused her employer of paying her one-sixth of what a man would get in her role, has won an employment fight after the tribunal ruled the public broadcaster discriminated against her.

Samira Ahmed, who presents Newswatch, a show that evaluates the BBC's news reporting, won her case at a London tribunal on Friday. She said that she was being paid significantly less than Jeremy Vine, who presents Points of View, a show she said was similar to her own.

Ahmed was paid £440 a programme after 2012, while Vine at the time was paid £3,000 a programme for Points of View. Both rely on submissions from viewers, with Points of View focusing on the BBC more generally.

The BBC “failed to rebut the presumption of sex discrimination that arose when she proved that her work was like his work and that she was paid less than him,” employment judge Harjit Grewal said in her ruling.

“No woman wants to have to take action against their own employer,” Ahmed said in a statement. “I love working for the BBC. I’m glad it’s been resolved.”

The proceedings were the latest in a series of rows over unequal pay between genders at the broadcaster that erupted when it was forced to publish the salaries of its highest-paid employees in 2017. The list showed that the top seven paid stars were all men, with the highest compensated woman earning less than a quarter of the top-paid man. Later that year a report showed a 9.3% gender pay gap at the BBC, which is lower than the UK average.

At the tribunal, an attorney for the BBC told Ahmed that she was paid a comparable amount to her predecessor, Ray Snoddy, which she didn’t deny. However, Ahmed says that her level of experience made Vine a more appropriate comparison in terms of pay.

In her witness statement, Ahmed alleged that the BBC “gifted” Vine his lunchtime radio show, which she says is the source of his mainstream appeal. According to her, “women are not given these opportunities” at the broadcaster.

Ahmed also alleged that she had been told by a senior BBC manager, whose name was redacted by the tribunal, that “the BBC doesn’t do equal pay”.

“This case was never about one person, but the way different types of programmes across the media industry attract different levels of pay,” the BBC said in a statement. “We have always believed that the pay of Samira and Jeremy Vine was not determined by their gender.”

With Ellen Milligan and Jonathan Browning.

Bloomberg

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