UK

BBC Journalist Olenka Frenkiel Accuses Corporation Of Ageism And Sexism

08/11/2014 16:34 GMT | Updated 08/11/2014 16:59 GMT
Getty Images via Getty Images
LONDON - NOVEMBER 23: Terry Waite (L) and John Sergeant stand with Olenka Frenkiel of the BBC with her award for TV Journalist of the Year at the Press Association annual awards November 23, 2004 in central London, England. The annual ceremony rewards excellence in foreign reporting and other areas of serious journalism, both print and broadcast. (Photo by Getty Images)

An award-winning and long-serving BBC journalist has accused the corporation of ageism and sexism. Veteran reporter Olenka Frenkiel turned down a gagging clause from the BBC to hit out at her former employers. Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Ms Frenkiel said ageism and sexism remained serious issues at the corporation.

It comes amid a backdrop of female presenters criticising their one-time media employees for apparently side-lining them because of their age. The BBC denied it discriminated against older women, highlighting several high-profile female journalists.

Writing in the Guardian, Ms Frenkiel, the first BBC reporter at the fall of the Berlin Wall, said: "I find it extraordinary that BBC Current Affairs still claims it's trying to find older women - when it's spent the past decade getting rid of us. In the end I did want to go but only because they had made it so unpleasant."

The journalist said her human resources department has "no record" of her, despite having worked for the BBC for three decades. And she said bosses were no longer commissioning her films. Ms Frenkiel added: "It is dishonest for the BBC to claim to have changed while continuing discriminatory policies and then demanding victims sign gagging clauses."

In a statement, the BBC said: "We actually have many excellent experienced female journalists across BBC News: Lyse Doucet, Orla Guerin, Sarah Montague, Martha Kearney, Carole Walker and Maxine Mawhinney among others. Maxine is one of the best known faces on the BBC News Channel, and we've increased the number of presenter appearances of Carole Walker too in recent months. We will continue to work hard to make sure our presenting teams are as diverse as possible."

The BBC has since implemented a policy mooted in May 2013 meaning that gagging clauses are no longer used.