“Oh dear God. She’s actually suggested that you should lose money."
By Amy Lewis
A leaked recording of BBC Radio 4 Today host John Humphrys joking about the gender pay gap with a fellow male BBC editor has reportedly left management ‘unimpressed’.
During the off-air conversation, which is thought to have been recorded earlier this week ahead of Monday’s show, John Humphrys is heard making light of the pay inequality that’s said to be rife at the BBC, and is also heard making quips about former BBC China editor Carrie Gracie.
Gracie made headlines last weekend after announcing her decision to resign from her post at the broadcaster, after discovering that she was being paid significantly less than her male counterparts.
In an open letter posted on her website, Gracie writes: “My name is Carrie Gracie and I have been a BBC journalist for three decades. With great regret, I have left my post as China editor to speak out publicly on a crisis of trust at the BBC.
“The BBC belongs to you, the licence fee payer. I believe you have a right to know that it is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure.
“In thirty years at the BBC, I have never sought to make myself the story and never publicly criticised the organisation I love. I am not asking for more money. I believe I am very well paid already – especially as someone working for a publicly funded organisation. I simply want the BBC to abide by the law and value men and women equally.”
Seemingly not taking the issues at the heart of Gracie’s resignation seriously, Humphrys is heard criticising her directly in his conversation with BBC North America editor Jon Sopel. Both men are among the organisation’s top-earners.
According to a transcript published by The Sun, Humphrys says to Sopel: “Slight change of subject, the first question will be how much of your salary you are prepared to hand over to Carrie Gracie to keep her, and then a few comments about your other colleagues, you know, like our Middle East editor [Jeremy Bowen] and the other men who are earning too much.”
Sopel replies: “I mean, obviously if we are talking about the scope for the greatest redistribution I’ll have to come back and say well yes Mr Humphrys, but …”
To which Humphrys adds: “And I could save you the trouble as I could volunteer that I’ve handed over already more than you f***ing earn, but I’m still left with more than anybody else and that seems to me to be entirely just – something like that would do it?”
Humphrys then goes on to take aim at Gracie, and presumably her letter, saying: “Oh dear God. She’s actually suggested that you should lose money – you know that don’t you? You’ve read the thing properly have you?
“And the idea is that I’m not allowed to talk to her about it throughout the whole course of the programme. Not a word.”
While a BBC source has reportedly admitted that ‘management are deeply unimpressed’, an official spokesperson stated:
“This was an ill-advised off-air conversation which the presenter regrets. The BBC is committed to getting its pay structures right.”
The Sun reports that Humphrys himself has dismissed the conversation as ‘just silly banter between old mates,’ which in the current climate, might sound like an all-too familiar defense for many… #LockerRoomTalk