News presenter Samira Ahmed has won her sex discrimination equal pay claim against the BBC.
The journalist claimed she was underpaid for presenting the Newswatch programme compared with what Jeremy Vine received for hosting Points Of View, a similar show.
She told the hearing she was owed almost £700,000 in back pay.
An employment judge and two panel members ruled unanimously that the BBC had failed to prove the difference in their pay “because of a material factor which did not involve subjecting the claimant to sex discrimination”.
Ahmed was paid £465 per episode for hosting Newswatch, while Vine received £3,000 for Points Of View.
Speaking after her tribunal win, Ahmed said: “No woman wants to have to take action against their own employer,” adding “I’m now looking forward to continuing to do my job, to report on stories and not being one.”
The BBC said it was “committed to equality and equal pay” but insisted the case involved “different types of programmes… attracting different levels of pay”.
Its statement went on: “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”.
The public service broadcaster had argued that news and entertainment programme pay grades were not comparable.
They also described news programme Newswatch as a “relatively niche” show, while they said entertainment programme Points Of View was “extremely well-known”.
The BBC also cited audience research they said showed that Ahmed was less recognisable to viewers than Vine.
The judgment found the shows to be “broadly similar”, adding that Vine read his scripts from an autocue, which it concluded “did not require any particular skill or experience”.
The NUJ, who supported the 51-year-old journalist and broadcaster in her case, said numerous other pay cases against the broadcaster had been positively resolved since the tribunal came to an end in November.
Ahmed was among a number of women at the BBC to raise concerns over pay equality following a backlash over former China editor Carrie Gracie‘s salary, which first came to public attention back in 2018.
Following the result, Carrie Gracie 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.”
The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood, who was interviewed by Ahmed at the National Theatre last year, also reacted to the news of Ms Ahmed’s win tweeting: “Congratulations! @SamiraAhmedUK @equalitynow.”