Samira Ahmed, a visiting professor at Kingston University has won her equal pay claim against the BBC, a judge has ruled.
The broadcast presenter Samira Ahmed, who has guest lectured for the journalism course at Kingston University since 2011, won the employment tribunal which ended in early November with the judgement announced on January 10.
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.”
Ahmed received support from public figures including QI host Sandi Toksvig, TV presenter Naga Munchetty and lawyer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi.
She thanked the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and her legal team.
“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,” she said.
Paid less than one-sixth
Ahmed claimed she was underpaid for hosting the BBC 1 programme Newswatch in comparison to her male colleague Jeremy Vine’s work on Points of View.
Vine was paid £3,000 per episode to present his show between 2008 and 2018, whereas Ahmed was paid £440 for Newswatch, less than one-sixth of Vine’s wage.
The judgment said: “Her work on Newswatch was like Jeremy Vine’s work on Points of View under section 65(1) of the Equality Act 2010.”
It added that the corporation “has not shown that the difference in pay was because of a material factor which did not involve subjecting the claimant [Ahmed] to sex discrimination”.
Ahmed had told the tribunal that she “could not understand how pay for me, a woman, could be so much lower than Jeremy Vine, a man, for presenting very similar programmes and doing very similar work”.
She said that she was owed almost £700,000 in back pay as a result of the difference in pay. But the BBC responded by saying she and Vine performed “very different roles”.
Less well known
The BBC argued that Vine was better-known, citing audience research from 2017 which found 71 per cent of people recognised him compared to 29 per cent for Ahmed.
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’s legal team said Ahmed was paid the same as former Newswatch host Ray Snoddy, who they said was her pay comparator, rather than Vine.
After the judgement was published, the BBC said: “Samira Ahmed is an excellent journalist and presenter, and we regret that this case ever had to go to tribunal.”
They also stressed their commitment to equality and equal 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.”
NUJ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet supported the 51-year-old journalist and said it was “an incredibly brave decision on Samira’s part” to bring the case to tribunal.