Former Today host Sarah Montague wins 'six-figure payout' from BBC

Mason Boycott-Owen
Ms Montague was said to be 'indancescent with rage' after discovering that she was paid almost five times less than John Humphrys - PA

The former host of BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Sarah Montague, has won a six-figure payout in her fight against discrimination at the BBC.

The settlement by the broadcaster is the latest in its dispute with female members of staff, with as many as 120 women bringing forward equal pay cases.

Ms Montague, who now presents Radio 4’s The World at One, received the payment following the BBC’s internal investigation into unequal pay.

Ms Montague was reportedly ‘incandescent with rage’ after discovering that she was paid almost five times less than John Humphrys, her Today co-host for 18 years.

The presenter lodged a complaint when it emerged that she only took home £133,000 compared to Mr Humphrys, who earned between £600,000 and £649,000.

According to recent BBC figures, Ms Montague earns more than £240,000 in her new role.

The payout to Ms Montague was reported to be £1 million, although BBC sources said it was closer to £500,000.

Though Ms Montague was told by Mr Humphrys about their difference in pay before the BBC published its equal pay report in 2018, she said that she "had long suspected that I was paid much less than my colleagues but until the pay disclosures I had no idea of the scale of that difference.

“John Humphrys told me what he was paid before the reveal, long before.

“My issue was less with John Humphreys than with other people who were used much less than me and who were very, very open with me.

“There were some emails that I got from some brilliant male colleagues who just immediately were saying, ‘if it helps’ [and then would tell her their salary], or, ‘cant believe what I’ve just seen [about your salary] if it helps, this is what I’m on’ and that’s what you need.”

At the employment tribunal of Samira Ahmed, a list of 120 women who were taking cases against the BBC was mistakenly revealed to the court.

Women who have been identified include the award-winning foreign correspondent, Orla Guerin, and BBC stars Louise Minchin and Joanna Gosling.

Ms Ahmed claimed back almost £700,000 in payments alleging that the BBC broke unequal legislation, with her case backed by the National Union of Journalists.

In her tribunal, she compared her earnings when presenting Newswatch, with presenter Jeremy Vine’s earnings for presenting Points of View.

Ms Ahmed won her case and in a unanimous judgement it was said that her work was like that of Mr Vine and the BBC had not proved that their difference in pay was because of discrimination because of their sex.

Ahmed said: "No woman wants to have to take action against their own employer,” but that she was “glad it’s been resolved.”

Responding to the case of Ms Montague, a BBC spokesperson said: “While we don’t comment on individual cases, no one has received a payment of £1m.”

“We have made significant changes to pay and grading over recent years to ensure we have a system that is fair and more transparent than most other organisations.

“Given this, we’ve unsurprisingly had a large number of queries about different aspects of pay and the majority of these do not result in any changes to individuals’ pay.

“Where we’ve identified historic issues we have been addressing them. We continue to try to engage with our staff to resolve a small number of outstanding cases.”