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news


BBC pays £1 million in legal fees to fight equality cases


THE BBC has paid more than £1 million to external barristers and solicitors to work on tribunal claims brought by staff in equal pay and race discrimination cases. The figure was disclosed in a letter to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which was sent after the committee pressed Tim Davie, the corporation’s director general, for the information. Originally, the BBC had said it was not able to give a total cost for external legal fees for equal pay or race-related claims brought by its staff. The BBC was unable to put a figure on the


costs of using in-house lawyers on such cases but acknowledged that more than 2,000 hours were spent on them. The figures do not cover costs of ongoing tribunal claims. The BBC has faced a large number of equal pay claims following action from former China editor Carrie Gracie, presenter Samira Ahmed and others.


The NUJ supported Samira in a successful


high-profile equal pay tribunal, which determined that her work presenting BBC’s Newswatch programme was equal to that of Jeremy Vine on Points of View, despite him being paid six times more. The union also supported Carie, who resigned from her position as China editor in January 2018 because she was paid less than men in similar roles. She was given a full apology and back pay. Sarah Montague (pictured), a


former presenter of Radio 4’s Today


programme and now of the World at One, said in January she had won a £400,000 settlement and an apology over unequal treatment. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary,


said: “It’s a shocking sum to have spent on defending the indefensible. There have been many occasions when the NUJ has urged the BBC to stop wasting money on lawyers and sort things out sensibly with individuals.”





THE BBC faces an uncertain future because it relies heavily on the licence fee as its audience share plummets, the National Audit Office (NAO) has concluded.


said the corporation had postponed making difficult decisions about future income streams and was using some of its reserves to cover the cost of free


Walmsley talks pictures


NUJ photographer John Walmsley is giving a talk about his work and career to the Royal Photographic Society. The event, Engagement, which is free and open to everyone, is on Thursday April 29 at 6.15pm. Book at https://


Dunquin, Co Kerry, 1967


tinyurl.com/y3f8pcx5. John is a lifelong freelance documentary photographer and union member. His pictures can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain Library, the National Art Library at the V&A, the V&A Museum of Childhood and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. His work will also soon be shown at the Library of the University of California, San Diego, the Archive of the University of Edinburgh and the Liverpool Museum.


licences for viewers aged over 75 years. The NAO’s findings come amid criticism from senior Conservatives of the BBC and its reliance on the licence fee ahead of the


It’s a shocking sum to have spent on defending the indefensible. The NUJ has often urged the BBC to stop wasting money on lawyers


Michelle Stanistreet NUJ general secretary


inbrief...


DC THOMSON MAKES £180M PRE-TAX LOSS DC Thomson, the Dundee-based publisher of the Press and Journal, the Sunday Post and the Courier, made a pre-tax loss of £180 million in the year ending March 2020 after the early lockdown reduced the value of investments. The company also wrote down by £79.5 million the value of its papers and magazines and its Wild & Wolf retail business.


GB NEWS LOOKS FOR DIGITAL ‘DISRUPTORS’ Andrew Neil’s GB News has advertised 140 jobs, calling for ‘disruptors and innovators’ to ‘reshape television and digital news’. It has been speculated the new channel will be right-wing and similar to Fox in the US. Neil, who chairs GB News, said it would target ‘the vast number of British people who feel underserved and unheard by their media’.


BBC future unclear with fee, say auditors The spending watchdog


BBC’s charter renewal in December 2027. Richard Sharp, the


corporation’s incoming chair, said last month the fee ‘may be worth reassessing’ as part of a review.


HENDERSON LEAVES THE MIRROR STABLE Paul Henderson is leaving his role as editor of the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People. He has edited the titles as deputy to editor-in-chief Alison Phillips. Henderson decided to leave his job last year as part of July’s business overhaul but his departure was not announced until December.


Bridget Rowe dies from coronavirus


Bridget Rowe, former Sunday Mirror and Sunday People


editor, died in January after contracting Covid-19 in hospital. She was admitted to hospital following brain seizures and died just over two weeks later. Rowe began on magazines including 19, Look Now and Woman’s World before becoming assistant editor of The Sun, editor of the News of the World’s magazine Sunday, editor of Woman’s Own and TV Times editor. In 1991, she became editor of the Sunday Mirror and, in 1994, moved to


The People. In 1997, she became managing director of both papers.


theJournalist | 07


MIRRORPIX


JOHN WALMSLEY


PA IMAGES / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO


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