Journalist warns BBC of “disastrous legal defeat” as she leaves editor’s role

Carrie Gracie, who took the position several years ago, described the pay culture at her employer as “secretive and illegal”.

A senior BBC journalist has given up her role as the broadcaster’s China editor, citing concerns about the corporation’s gender pay gap.

Carrie Gracie, who took the position several years ago, described the pay culture at her employer as “secretive and illegal”.

Over the weekend it was confirmed that she had quit her role at the BBC’s Beijing bureau last week, although she will not leave the broadcaster altogether, instead resuming her old role in the TV newsroom.

Her dramatic resignation is likely to lead to renewed emphasis on the disparity between what men and woman earn.

While this has been identified as an issue at many large employers, the BBC came under particular scrutiny after being forced to divulge pay brackets for individual stars last year.

Analysis showed that two thirds of the broadcaster’s highest earners were men.

“Salary disclosures the BBC was forced to make six months ago revealed not only unacceptably high pay for top presenters and managers but also an indefensible pay gap between men and women doing equal work,” said Ms Gracie, in a letter posted on her blog.

“These revelations damaged the trust of BBC staff. For the first time, women saw hard evidence of what they’d long suspected, that they are not being valued equally.

“Many have since sought pay equality through internal negotiation but managers still deny there is a problem. This bunker mentality is likely to end in a disastrous legal defeat for the BBC and an exodus of female talent at every level.

“Mine is just one story of inequality among many, but I hope it will help you understand why I feel obliged to speak out.”

Speaking on Radio 4’s The Today programme earlier today, Ms Gracie said she had been overwhelmed by the support she had received after making her announcement.

MPs including Labour’s former leader Harriet Harman and Jess Phillips have spoken up for the journalist, as have BBC colleagues including Emily Maitlis, Mishal Husain and Clare Balding.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “A significant number of organisations have now published their gender pay figures showing that we are performing considerably better than many and are well below the national average.

“Alongside that, we have already conducted an independent judge-led audit of pay for rank and file staff which showed ‘no systemic discrimination against women’.

“A separate report for on air staff will be published in the not too distant future.”