Carrie Gracie: the BBC is damaging itself over handling of the gender pay scandal

Former China editor gives impassioned evidence to MPs over the problems of pay to women

Carrie Gracie DCMS select committee screen grab, BD

Carrie Gracie, the BBC’s former China editor who resigned over the gender pay scandal at the BBC, has said that the Corporation is damaging itself with the way it has handled the problem.

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In an impassioned address to MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport’s select committee, Gracie said that it was her firm belief that the Corporation was breaching equality law on the issue and needed to “puts its hands on the table” and come clean on the problems that exist.

She dismissed the BBC’s own analysis of the issue yesterday when it published its plans to tackle the problem, including a new “framework” on pay structures and evidence from accountancy firm PwC that there was no “systemic” problem of gender discrimination in pay policy.

Speaking to MPs on Wednesday, Gracie suggested that the Corporation was unable to admit liability on the subject because it would open the floodgates to scores of compensation claims.

“The BBC has been forced into justifications of the indefensible because it doesn’t want the fiscal liabilities that are there,” she said.

“None of these things would stand as a piece of journalism…that’s what pains me,” she said. “This is damaging the credibility of the BBC in a completely unacceptable way… The corporate machine is not living up to our values.

“We are not in the business of producing toothpaste or tyres, we are the BBC. Our business is truth.”

She said she had received the results of her grievance complaint last week and that the BBC had said it had “inadvertently” underpaid her since 2014 and promised to backdate her earnings.

Gracie was earning £135,000 before the BBC offered her a £45,000 rise, which she rejected.

On the subject of money she said: “I have told them that’s not what this is about for me.”

Gracie came close to tears when answering questions about her experiences, particularly when she was asked about alleged briefings made against her from within the BBC.

She said she objected to claims that were said to have been made that she worked part time, when she didn’t. “I work hard, my team work hard,” she said.

“I knew I’d give the China job every last ounce of my skin and stamina. I knew I would do that job at least as well as any man. And there was no man. There was no other candidate for the job.”

She added that she had transferrable skills that would allow her to earn more money outside the BBC but that she didn’t want to do that. “The BBC is my work family,” she said.

The BBC was forced last summer to reveal the salaries of all stars earning more than £150,000 a year.

Gracie was not on the list, while other international editors were.

North America editor Jon Sopel was in the £200,000 to £249,999 bracket while Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen earned between £150,000 and £199,999.

It has since been revealed that Sopel, alongside other broadcasters John Humphrys, Huw Edwards, Nicky Campbell, Nick Robinson, and Jeremy Vine, had taken a pay cut.

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A number of campaigners from the BBC Women lobby group were present at today’s hearing in Westminster to support Gracie. These included BBC news journalists Naga Munchetty, Kate Silverton and Kate Adie.