Monday 21 October 2019 4:02 pm

Samira Ahmed takes BBC to court in row over unequal pay

Top BBC presenter Samira Ahmed is taking the broadcaster to an employment tribunal over claims she was paid less than her male colleagues.

Ahmed is due to appear at a central London tribunal on Monday next week over an alleged “failure to provide equal pay for equal work”, filings show.

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The legal dispute, first reported by the Guardian, could prove to be a watershed moment in a gender pay gap controversy that has engulfed the broadcaster in recent months.

The row was thrust into the limelight in January last year when the BBC’s China editor Carrie Gracie resigned in protest at alleged pay discrimination.

Scores of female staff members have since formed a group called BBC Women, which is aimed at highlighting pay disparity and lobbies for reform, while some prominent male journalists – including Huw Edwards, John Humphrys and Jon Sopel – have also taken pay cuts.

In March the equality regulator opened an investigation into the organisation’s historical policy and pay practices, probing all pay complaints since the beginning of 2016.

Ahmed is one of the broadcaster’s best-known female presenters, fronting Newswatch, a programme that airs viewers’ opinions on how the corporation has covered news topics. She also presents popular arts and culture show Front Row on Radio 4.

Ahmed has been contacted for further details about the case. The BBC declined to comment. 

The hearing could pave the way for a series of embarrassing tribunal hearings against the BBC as more women take action over unfair remuneration policies.

Last month the corporation was forced to pay £130,000 to settle an equal pay dispute. Caroline Barlow, who resigned in February after six years at the broadcaster, said that 15 male colleagues were paid more than her for similar work. The BBC denied the allegations, but agreed to settle the case out of court.

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It will also deal a fresh blow to the corporation, which is still reeling from a controversy around its handling of an impartiality complaint against Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty.

In an embarrassing U-turn, director general was forced to reverse the company’s decision to uphold a complaint against Munchetty over her comments about US President Donald Trump.

Main image credit: Getty