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BBC spends £1m on legal fees fighting equal pay and race discrimination cases


Presenter Samira Ahmed

Presenter Samira Ahmed

Presenter Samira Ahmed

The BBC has spent more than £1m on legal fees fighting equal pay and race discrimination cases brought by staff, it has been disclosed.

The corporation hired external solicitors to spend 2,688 hours on equal pay and race discrimination employment tribunal claims brought since July 2017, and was billed £1,121,652 in fees for both solicitors and barristers.

The figures do not cover costs of ongoing tribunal claims.

The BBC was unable to put a figure on additional costs of using in-house lawyers to deal with staff allegations concerning equal pay or race discrimination, but says that more than 2,400 hours were spent on such cases.

The information was revealed in a letter from the BBC to the DCMS (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) Committee.

The BBC has previously said it was "not possible to provide a total cost for external counsel fees", for equal pay employment tribunal claims nor race-related claims brought by staff.

Presenter Samira Ahmed is among the BBC employees who have received settlements from the corporation over unequal pay. Last year, a London employment tribunal found that Ahmed should have been paid the same as fellow presenter Jeremy Vine for their work on Newswatch and Points Of View respectively.

The BBC had argued the pair were not doing similar work.

Broadcaster Sarah Montague confirmed in January she had won a £400,000 settlement and an apology from the BBC over unequal treatment. Montague, who previously presented BBC Radio 4's Today programme, said the deal came after a "long period of stressful negotiations".

A BBC spokesperson said: "The BBC is committed to being a truly inclusive employer. While we aim to manage costs efficiently and proportionately, the complexities of these cases mean they need to be managed by qualified professionals - not least to ensure fairness."

Belfast Telegraph