The BBC has decided not to appeal in the equal pay case involving Newswatch presenter Samira Ahmed, thus giving hope to the numerous other women pursuing historical equal pay cases against the Corporation.
Ahmed had successfully claimed she was owed almost £700,000 in back pay because of the difference between her £440-an-episode rate and the £3,000 per episode paid to Jeremy Vine for hosting Points of View.
In January, an employment tribunal unanimously concluded that the BBC had failed to provide convincing evidence that the pay gap was for because of anything other than gender discrimination.
The BBC had argued that Vine deserved a higher rate because he was more famous and had a “glint in his eye”, but the tribunal said it did not provide sufficient evidence that this was actually the case.
The BBC initially objected to the ruling but has now decided not to appeal, instead agreeing to pay an undisclosed settlement to Ahmed. The presenter, who was supported by the National Union of Journalists, has not commented on the settlement.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Samira Ahmed and the BBC are pleased to have reached a settlement following the recent tribunal. Samira is a highly valued BBC presenter and now these matters have been concluded we all want to focus on the future.
“We look forward to continuing to work together to make great programmes for audiences. Neither the BBC, Samira or the NUJ will be commenting further on this case.”
In their verdict, the tribunal judges said there were only “minor differences” in the work Ahmed and Vine did presenting the two comparable viewer feedback programmes.
They wrote: “Jeremy Vine read the script from the autocue. He read it in the tone in which it was written. If it told him to roll his eyes, he did. It did not require any particular skill or experience to do that.”
The Corporation could face a substantial legal bill as a result of its decision to fight the case.