BBC men joke about the gender pay gap in leaked conversation

Lawrence Kim
January 13, 2018

Humphrys defended his remarks to The Sun, stating it was "silly banter between old mates", and later told The Times that he and Sopel were "taking the mickey out of each other".

Gracie's resignation was the latest aftershock since the BBC was forced to disclose the salaries of its top earning employees a year ago, revealing that two-thirds of them were men.

North America Editor 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...'" Gracie said she was offered a 33 percent pay raise, but she rejected it, claiming she wanted equality, not more money.

Humphrys, who earns between £600,000 and £649,999, was speaking to Sopel, who earns between £200,000 and £249,999, off-air at around 4am before Monday's edition of the Today programme.

Humphrys, 74, reportedly responded: "And I could save you the trouble as I could volunteer that I've handed over already more than you f****** earn but I'm still left with more than anybody else and that seems to me to be entirely just..." She's actually suggested that you should lose money; you know that don't you?

He then referred to "other men who are earning too much" at the BBC.

Mr Humphrys told The Times that his comments were not intended as a criticism of Ms Gracie.

A former presenter has accused the BBC of double standards after she was dumped from an appearance on the Today programme ahead of the leak of a damaging conversation involving host John Humphrys. You've read the thing properly have you?'

John Humphrys
GETTYIt was revealed that two-thirds of BBC stars earning more than £150k are male

"So basically I was stood down rather than Mr Humphrys", she said.

JS: I mean... can we have this conversation... "As far as I'm concerned, it's over and done with". He added that it "had nothing to do with Carrie's campaign".

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

Former journalist Miriam O'Reilly, who won a tribunal against the corporation in 2011, claimed to have heard the recording of the conversation between Mr Humphrys and Mr Sopel.

The Humphrys leak, circulated in the BBC newsroom before inevitably reaching a wider audience, will force journalists to suppress any private reservations they have over the pay campaign, according to some.

When asked whether as an influential person at the BBC he would get behind the campaign to close the gender pay gap, he said: " I am behind that campaign and so, if I may say so, is the BBC".

Now, this in and of itself could be dismissed as a harmless attempt to bring some humour to an otherwise serious story or, more generously, an attempt to diffuse the inevitable awkwardness of one BBC presenter talking to another, who has just resigned over her pay at, well, the BBC whilst on air on a BBC programme.

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

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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