BBC Radio 4 host heard mocking gender pay gap in leaked recording

Sergio Conner
January 13, 2018

On Thursday night, the Sun and Times newspapers obtained the leaked transcript of Humphrys, the highest-paid presenter of Radio 4's flagship news programme, having a disparaging conversation with BBC North America editor Jon Sopel about their colleague Carrie Gracie's demand for equal pay. The planned role change involving two of... A BBC source revealed to The Guardian, however, that the corporation's management are "deeply unimpressed" by the conversation.

A spokesperson for the BBC said the conversation was "an ill-advised off-air conversation which the presenter regrets".

He said: "It was not meant for any other ears than Jon's, although there happened to be a producer in the studio at the time - a woman as it happens, who thought it was very amusing, because they know about the relationship that I have with Jon".

Ms Gracie took a dramatic stand on the issue of gender pay equality earlier this week when she announced she was stepping down from her post in China and returning to London, accusing her employer of unlawful salary discrimination.

She quit because of pay inequality with her male counterparts - including Sopel - who were earning more than her £135,000-a-year salary.

Ms Gracie said she learned a year ago that of the four worldwide editors at the corporation, two men had earned more than their female counterparts.

Mr Sopel is said to have replied: "Obviously if we are talking about the scope for the greatest redistribution, I'll have to come back and say, 'Well yes Mr Humphrys, but'".

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It led to BBC Woman's Hour host Jane Garvey sitting out for a segment on her own programme, while Radio 4 host Winifred Robinson was taken off air because of a tweet backing Gracie.

The conversation was leaked by Miriam O'Reilly, 60, who won an ageism case against the Beeb for axing her from Countryfile.

Responding to O'Reilly, a BBC spokesperson said: "The Today programme often makes changes to schedules and contributors in the run up to broadcast".

She also said she had been dropped from Friday's Today programme, when she was expecting to talk about equal pay, adding that she believed it was because of concern she would mention the leaked tape on air.

Deputy Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson asked in a tweet whether Humphrys would be prohibited from presenting stories on the issue of gender impartiality.

When Carrie Gracie brought her claim for equal pay, the BBC could have accepted responsibility, apologised to all the women on less money for equivalent work and committed to revising its pay structures and to future pay transparency.

He said on Twitter: "Sopel and Humphries now in far worse territory than Andy Gray & Richard Keys who were fired 7 years ago this month by Sky Sports".

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