Jeremy Vine was ‘gifted’ Radio 2 show, Samira Ahmed says as she continues equal pay fight

Vincent Wood
Samira Ahmed leaves the central London Employment Tribunal: PA

BBC presenter Samira Ahmed has claimed Jeremy Vine was “gifted” his lunchtime show on Radio 2 as she continues to argue for almost £700,000 from the corportation in an equal pay claim.

Ahmed, who is arguing before an employment tribunal that she should be paid as much as Vine was for similar work, said the opportunity given to the broadcaster would not be available to women in the same circumstances.

"I was struck by how Jeremy was gifted the Radio 2 lunchtime show as a successor to Jimmy Young in 2003," she wrote in a statement at the tribunal. “This was a controversial appointment at the time and led to many complaints. Prior to that he had been a news journalist with no experience or profile as an entertainment star.

"The BBC stuck by him and he was eventually cemented in the role. Women are not gifted these opportunities."

Ahmed’s argument is based on the similarities between her show Newswatch - in which she presents an audience-led critique of BBC News coverage, and Points of View – which presents similar coverage of BBC programmes at large.

Vine was paid £3,000 per episode for presenting the BBC One programme between 2008 and 2018, while Ahmed was paid £440 per episode for Newswatch.

She said: "I could not understand how pay for me, a woman, could be so much lower than Jeremy Vine, a man, for presenting very similar programmes and doing very similar work".

She added that she believes her work requires more preparation time.

"It is likely that Jeremy Vine spends less time in make-up than I do” as "women are more likely to be criticised for their appearance on air," she said.

However the BBC has argued that the claim should be dismissed because the show she presents is not as popular.

The corporation's legal team described Vine’s show as "extremely well-known" in their opening submissions – while noting that Ms Ahmed’s appear on “the relatively niche BBC News channel"

Despite holding a reach of more than 1.5 million people, her show has "no discernible impact" on viewing figured, they said as they argued it is used to fill out the channel at the weekend.

BBC Women, which represents a number of the broadcaster’s female MPs to have disputed its gender pay gap, said: "We know that this is a case Samira did not want to bring. BBC managers had every opportunity to pay her equally for equal work in line with the law. We stand with Samira as she stands with so many of us facing similar battles."

After the hearing was adjourned on Wednesday, a BBC spokesperson said: "The programme was not 'gifted' - a number of people tried out on the programme, including Jeremy, before a decision was made."

The case at the Central London Employment Tribunal is expected to run until next week.

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