The Londoner: "No more excuses" Harman tells BBC

'No excuses': Harriet Harman (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images): Getty Images

Harriet Harman, the former Labour deputy leader, has called on the BBC to come up with a “target date” by which it will commit to “50:50” pay.

Her words come as Jennifer Millins, lawyer at Mishcon de Reya for the corporation’s former China editor Carrie Gracie, describes the BBC’s equal pay failings as “sex discrimination” and “unlawful”.

Both Harman and Millins were speaking as the BBC released its list of highest-paid earners yesterday. All 12 were men. The highest-paid man, football presenter Gary Lineker, earns at least £1.75 million. The highest paid woman, radio and TV presenter Claudia Winkleman, ranked 13th, on at least £370,000 — a fifth of Lineker’s salary.

In a speech last night, David Clementi, the BBC’s chair, sought to defend the corporation: “We have committed to closing the gender pay gap by 2020 — something I don’t think any other large organisation has done.”

However, as Harman and Millins argue, “closing the gap” is not the same as “equalising pay”. Harman asked: “Where is the target date by which BBC commits to 50:50 men and women in this list?”

Following Clementi's speech, Director General Tony Hall stated his targets "In '16/'17, only 25% of our top earners were women, 25%. As we sit in this room today we're at 40% and that's a substantial change", he said. "I'm pleased with that progress, but not satisfied. I want to be at 50/50 by the end of 2020 if not before."

Millins represented Gracie, who resigned her post as China editor to stand against pay discrimination and won a six-figure payout last month, throughout her battle. Gracie won an undisclosed sum that she — controversially — donated to charity.

Millins said, “The gender pay gap is not about inequality of pay per se, and the BBC has learnt from its attempts last year to defend allegations of equal pay by citing its relatively low gender pay gap. The two are not the same thing. The gender pay gap is caused by many different factors — lack of female progression being one of the main causes.”

Harman called for “action not words,” adding: “Either the BBC men are all just so much better than all the BBC women or this is persistent sex discrimination. No more excuses.”

Opting for a main course of Trump

Excited: Helena Morrissey: (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images) (Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Many business leaders declined an invitation to dine with Donald Trump at Blenheim this evening. But Helena Morrissey, head of personal investing at Legal & General Investment Management, can’t wait. “I’m glad to be invited: it’s an opportunity to see how he operates, unfiltered, with no fake news,” she writes in The Spectator. “If we are really to ‘own the process’, we need to engage and influence rather than boycott and protest. One man or woman can make a difference; whatever your views on his policies, Trump understands this.”


Alan Rusbridger, former Guardian editor and principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, has issued a plea for help to find his boat, Top Banana, stolen this week. Rusbridger told us: “A couple of boats have been taken by joyriders. I went on a long search last night but there was no sign.”


A staffer appears to have forgotten to turn off the ‘Live from Glastonbury webcam’ on the BBC website, which would ordinarily show the hedonistic circus of tents, stages and day-glo revellers at the annual music event. This year there is no festival — to allow fields to recover — and so the cam pans over a beautiful, bucolic Somerset vista. And breathe...

Glamour's coming home for Lulu

Football wasn’t the only topic on the minds of Londoners last night. Fashion designer Lulu Guinness was at One Belgravia toasting the launch of her new collection with haircare company ghd.

Maya Jama, BBC Radio 1 host and girlfriend of grime king Stormzy, took to the decks. Ashley James, presenter and DJ, acknowledged the main event of the evening by wearing an England shirt — and tore away to Hyde Park afterwards to watch the match on the big screen.

Elsewhere, Alexa Chung settled for the pub. She was among a long line of fans queuing to get into Canonbury’s Clissold Park Tavern. The model and designer contemplated scaling the fence. “You need a trust fund to get in here,” she was overheard complaining. But after worming her way through the queue, she eventually charmed the bouncers and joined pals Nick Grimshaw and Pixie Geldof inside.


Livid: Damian Green: (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Damian Green, sources in Westminster say, is “livid” to have not been brought back in the recent Cabinet reshuffle. There’s a silver lining, though. The former First Secretary of State told us that he and his wife, Alicia Collinson (Theresa May’s best friend from Oxford), love nothing more than a music festival. So there’ll be plenty of opportunity to drown out the noise of party squabbling over the summer.


Labour MP Wes Streeting spotted a crossover between two sets of fans last night: “To the gays who asked for Drag Race analogies to understand the football,” Streeting — who is gay himself — wrote, “the England team is now Shangela and we deserved the motherf***ing crown.”


Justine Greening MP is “gutted” England were knocked out last night, but the former education secretary has split loyalties: “I have France in our office sweepstake.”

Another crushing defeat at No 10

Theresa May invited MPs to watch the match at No 10 last night — although she excused herself because of a prior engagement. Conservatives squeezed into a sweaty room (not for the first time this week, the memory of the 1922 Committee meeting on Monday still lingered). But it was, say some present, hardly “the big-screen experience”. Among those trying to look round heads to see the action were Julian Smith, the Chief Whip, Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, and Brandon Lewis, the party chairman. As we reported yesterday, Henry Smith MP sulkily declined an invitation to watch on grounds that the PM “isn’t bringing Brexit home”.

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