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Carrie Gracie takes the BBC to task over Equal Pay

This claim has been supported by Michelle Stannisfeet, the National Union of Journalists’ General Secretary

Carrie Gracie, the BBC’s former China Editor, claimed to MPs that the BBC desperately needs external help and continues to be unable to reach a solution on its pay policy.

Although Gracie was told that she would be paid the same salary as male peers, the media was separately informed by the BBC that the reason for her being paid less was due to her part-time hours.

This claim has been supported by Michelle Stannisfeet, the National Union of Journalists’ General Secretary, who informed the committee that the BBC is currently looking into 297 equal pay claims.

The accountants Price Waterhouse Coopers said that their figures did not support this claim. However, Gracie countered that their report was not up to standard and would never be classed as respectable journalism.

The BBC’s Director General, Tony Hall, had previously refused requests from the government to share salary figures for the broadcasters, which Carrie agreed was unacceptable. It had been thought that Fran Unsworth, the current director of news at the BBC, had also claimed that Gracie worked part-time, though Unsworth responded that this was untrue.

It was at the internal grievance case with the BBC that Gracie was told that although she had inadvertently not been paid enough while in her position as China Editor, it was because her role was still in development for the first three of her four years in the role. However, at the age of 55, she has worked for the BBC for more than 30 years.

Gracie stated that she would never have gone to China if she had known the terms of her agreement in relation to her peers. She was offered a £45,000 pay rise and £100,000 in salary to cover the years 2014-2016, but she rejected these figures.

Gracie admitted that it had not been the greatest time to take the China role, because it was a time when her children were about to start their A Levels. One of them had gone through treatment for leukaemia before the China trip and Gracie herself had gone through treatment for breast cancer twice herself.

During the hearing, Gracie’s passion for her role at the BBC was evident, and was supported by several BBC presenters, both past and present, who sat behind Gracie in the room.

Tony Hall mentioned to MPs that although he has the greatest amount of respect for her, he did not think that this meant that she should be paid the same as the North American editor, because the scope of the role was very different.

Hall did apologise to Gracie, because although he said that that there was no gender discrimination at play here, there were things that the broadcaster had got wrong.

Hall admitted that the BBC did need to take action over some cases and that the policy for pay should be more transparent.

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