BBC Reporters Mocked The Gender Pay Gap In Leaked Audio

A leaked recording of a conversation between the BBC's John Humphrys and Jon Sopel, reveals Humphrys joking about Carrie Gracie's resignation and the pay gap.

The BBC's main job is to educate its audience. So maybe they can take a few minutes and educate BBC Radio 4 Today host John Humphrys, not to make light about the gender pay gap.

A leaked, recorded conversation between Humphrys and BBC's North America editor, Jon Sopel, reveals the pair discussing BBC's China editor, Carrie Gracie, and her comments on the gender pay gap after she resigned. In the recording, Humphrys can be heard making light of Gracie's decision to leave her China editor post after discovering that her male colleagues were earning significantly more than her. 

Gracie's resignation helped spur the conversation surrounding the pay gap at the BBC. In a forceful letter, Gracie states that she was shocked and dismayed to learn that the BBC's two male international editors were earning nearly 50 percent more than their two female counterparts after the BBC was required to disclose their employees salaries last summer.

"The BBC must admit the problem, apologize and set in place an equal, fair and transparent pay structure," she said. 

She also said that the BBC offered her a 33 percent pay increase but she turn the offer down, stating she didn't want more money, she just wanted equality. 

"The first question will be how much of your salary you are prepared to hand over to Carrie Gracie to keep her, and then a few comments about your other colleagues, you know like our Middle East editor and the other men who are earning too much," Humphrys can be heard saying to Sopel. 

To which Sopel replies, "I mean, obviously if we are talking about the scope for the greatest redistribution I'll have to come back and say well yes Mr. Humphrys, but...." 

Humphrys then states, "And I could save you the trouble as I could volunteer that I've handed over already more than you f***ing earn but I'm still left with more than anybody else and that seems to me to be entirely just — something like that would do it."

Humphrys added: "Oh dear God. She's actually suggested that you should lose money — you know that, don't you? You've read the thing properly have you?"

Humphrys has acknowledged the recording by writing it off as "silly banter between old mates," though nothing about the conversation reads "silly banter." Sopel doesn't sound or seem amused and Humphrys' overall tone is condescending and rude at best. 

"This was what I thought was an exchange between two old friends who have known each other for 30 years and were taking the mickey out of each other. It was nothing to do with Carrie's campaign," Humphrys stated. 

Miriam O'Reilly, who won an age discrimination case against the BBC in 2001, has accused the company of censorship after she was due to appear on-air to discuss equal pay and the wage gap, but the appearance was canceled after she questioned a producer about Humphrys. 

"Minutes after I told the producer that I had heard the tape I was stood down," she said. When asked if her having heard the tape was what caused the cancellation she replied, "I'm absolutely convinced about it, there's no doubt in my mind that's why."

Another female presenter mirrored O'Reilly's annoyance, telling The Guardian that it was "frustrating" that men were able to voice their opinions on the wage gap without any action being taken against them, but female journalist's were silenced since they had shown online support for Gracie. 

The BBC, despite mounting pressure, has not taken any action against Humphrys.

A spokesperson for the corporation has released a statement regarding the pay discrepancies:

"The BBC is committed to getting its pay structures right and, as we have said, we are conducting a comprehensive analysis of presenter pay. PWC [PricewaterhouseCoopers] are working with us on this to insure an objective external assessment of how we have set pay in the past, what we need to do different going forward, and what further action we need to take immediately. We will publish that in the coming weeks."

Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Neil Hall

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