The BBC’s Samira Ahmed has claimed she faces a “600% pay gap” compared to Jeremy Vine as she takes the broadcaster to court over claims of unequal pay.
The presenter’s case will focus on her contracts on the BBC News channel programme Newswatch, which she has presented since 2012, when she appears before an employment tribunal on Monday.
On Sunday, Ahmed asked why she was paid £465 per episode of Newswatch – an audience-led critique of coverage by BBC News – while Jeremy Vine, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said, was paid up to £3,000 for each episode of Points Of View, work Ahmed described as comparable.
The BBC disagrees and says the two programmes are different.
Ahmed, who also hosts Radio 4’s Front Row, said in a statement: “I love my job on Newswatch despite it being difficult and challenging.
“I know that it is an important part of demonstrating the BBC service to all its audiences and the licence fee payers.
“I have a sense of pride working for a public service broadcaster which seeks to represent the diversity of Britain and its licence fee payers.
“I have a sense of pride working for a public service broadcaster that seeks to represent the diversity of Britain and its licence fee payers.
“On the back of my BBC ID card are written the BBC values which include ‘we respect each other and celebrate our diversity’ and ‘we take pride in delivering quality and value for money’.
“I just ask why the BBC thinks I am worth only a sixth of the value of the work of a man for doing a very similar job.”
Ahmed has been among the female talents at the BBC to voice their concerns over pay equality following the scandal over former China editor Carrie Gracie’s salary.
Gracie found she was being paid significantly less than her male counterparts in 2018, a revelation which led to her resignation in protest. She later settled with the BBC, receiving an apology and a payout.
The hearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal is likely to last for seven days.
Ahmed has been backed by broadcaster Sandi Toksvig, lawyer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, and former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “The scourge of unequal pay has no place in our public service broadcaster and that’s why the NUJ is backing Samira’s case and many others.
“Unfortunately, despite Samira going through a lengthy and frustrating internal process in the hope that a sensible solution could be achieved, the BBC has not resolved this case and it will now be for the tribunal to determine whether this monumental pay gap is appropriate and defensible.
“Samira is to be congratulated for her persistence and determination to secure fair and equal treatment by her employer.”
Ahmed, who also presents Radio 4’s Front Row, previously said she felt “hugely bullied” over her employment status at the BBC.
In a statement, a BBC spokesman said: “The BBC is committed to equal pay. Points Of View is an entertainment programme with a long history and is a household name with the public.
“Newswatch – while an important programme – isn’t.
“Samira was paid the same as her male predecessor when she began presenting Newswatch.
“Gender has not been a factor in levels of pay for Points Of View. News and entertainment are very different markets and pay across the media industry reflects this.”