Women fume as John Humphrys jokes about BBC pay

13 January, 2018, 16:10 | Author: Cecil Buchanan
  • PA  Reuters                   John Humphrys and Jon Sopel

In the recording, Humphrys appeared to joke about the resignation of Carrie Gracie, who left her post as BBC News' China editor earlier this week after learning that she earned significantly less than male global editors in the corporation.

"This is not something that's going to dominate my existence".

Gracie added that she had been offered a £45,000 pay rise, to £180,000, but that it was still less than men in the same role.

In a conversation caught before the show, Humphrys, 74, and Sopel, 58, joked at Gracie's expense. "As far as I'm concerned, it's over and done with".

During the conversation, Mr Humphrys, who took a pay cut after last year's BBC rich list revealed he made up to £650,000 a year, asked Mr Sopel how much he would "hand over to Carrie Gracie to keep her".

JS: 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...

"We are in habit, Jon and I, of winding each other up and the goal of this jokey - I emphasise jokey - exchange was a bit of mutual mickey-taking, and that is all it was", he said. It was just a chat - I had no idea, neither did Jon, neither did anybody else - including the producer - that it was being recorded somewhere in the bowels of the BBC and somebody chose to leak it.

Humphrys said: "And I could save you the trouble as I could volunteer that I've handed over already more than you f***ing earn".

HUMPHRYS: "Oh dear God".

Humphrys went on to ask Sopel if he knew she was suggesting he should lose money in order to balance pay among foreign editors, to which Sopel replied: "Can we have this conversation somewhere else?" You've read the thing properly, have you?

Two of the BBC's top-earning male journalists reportedly joked about the equal pay fight of one of their female colleagues.

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The exchange reportedly happened on Monday, before the Today programme was on air, and the same day Gracie co-hosted the show with Humphrys.

Labour MP Stella Creasy told HuffPost UK that it was "unfair" some stars have been stopped from speaking while Humphrys continued to work.

On Friday, the BBC said the comments did not break its editorial guidelines as the pair were not explicitly campaigning about an issue, so Humphrys would not be barred from reporting on equal pay.

"It's clear everyone has an opinion, so it is unfair to stop some speaking and not others".

It led to BBC Woman's Hour host Jane Garvey sitting out for a segment on her own programme, while Radio 4 host Winifred Robinson was taken off air because of a tweet backing Gracie.

On Thursday night, a BBC spokesperson also released a statement about the leak of Humphrys's remarks, saying: "This was an ill-advised off-air conversation which the presenter regrets".

The BBC reported its management are said to be "deeply unimpressed" by the recording.

She added: "The BBC is committed to getting its pay structures right and, as we have said, we are conducting a comprehensive analysis of presenter pay".

Humphrys' controversial comments are believed to have been made on Monday and were leaked on Wednesday.

The BBC will publish a report from management consultants PwC into talent pay in the next few weeks.

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