Four female BBC journalists denied equal pay claim at tribunal

Four senior female BBC journalists who have launched legal action against the broadcaster claiming a job application process was “rigged” will not be able to bring a claim for equal pay, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Martine Croxall, Karin Giannone, Kasia Madera and Annita McVeigh launched an employment tribunal against the BBC, alleging they were snubbed over chief presenter roles following the merger of the BBC’s News and World News channels.

The journalists, who are all aged 49 to 55, had included a claim for equal pay as part of their legal challenge to the BBC, but this was dismissed at a preliminary hearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal.

On Thursday, employment tribunal judge Sarah Goodman concluded that the women, who had previously reached settlements with the BBC, could not bring new equal pay claims.

Martine Croxall employment tribunal
Annita McVeigh, Martine Croxall, Karin Giannone and Kasia Madera (PA)

Lawyers for the BBC had described the situation as being like “seeking a second bite of the cherry on the same set of facts”.

The women believe they have not been paid equally compared with their male counterparts since February 2020.

All the journalists are expected to give evidence during their full employment tribunal against the BBC, which was set for three weeks from March 17 next year.

Ms Croxall and Ms McVeigh, who are both 55, plus Ms Madera, 49, allege discrimination on the grounds of age, sex, being a union member and wages.

Ms Giannone, 50, alleges discrimination based on age, sex and wages.

They were also given the go-ahead to have their cases heard jointly.

The BBC is resisting the women’s legal claim in which they allege they lost their jobs and were kept off air for a year when they challenged the process.

The women alleged they have been left to suffer victimisation, harassment and reputational damage.

In a joint statement after the hearing, the four journalists said: “We are pleased the tribunal has agreed our four discrimination claims should be heard together, claims the BBC’s lawyers tried to split, which would have necessitated eight hearings at great additional expense to the licence fee payer.

“We remain committed to seeking equal pay despite the BBC’s lawyers relying on a novel argument to prevent our claims progressing.

“We await the judge’s written ruling, to which we will give further consideration.”

After the preliminary hearing, which laid out the groundwork for a full tribunal, a BBC spokesman said: “We are pleased with the result and that the tribunal has accepted our position. We will not be commenting further at this stage.”

It is believed that the BBC’s position is that it has complied with equal pay legislation.

It is also understood the BBC is confident it applied a rigorous and fair recruitment process, and that all managers conducted that process properly.

In their similar witness statements, the women say: “Four of us have been demoted, three are facing a sizeable pay cut, with a fourth having had her pay cut for half of her job.

“No men and no women younger than us suffered these detriments.”

The women applied for the new roles as BBC News chief presenters, but lost out to successful applicants including Matthew Amroliwala.

In their tribunal claim, the women said that a manager had told union reps in consultation meetings that new lower paid correspondent-presenter jobs were intended as development opportunities, meaning they were for people with less experience than them.

They also said the cuts have left the new channel understaffed and that director-general Tim Davie had said publicly on several occasions he wanted far fewer presenters.

The women believe they have not been paid equally compared with their male counterparts since February 2020, and there was a gap of about £36,000 a year in pensionable salary as of February 2023.

They described themselves as having been “set up to fail in the jobs process” which saw them being denied work while less experienced freelancers and casuals have covered shifts they could have done.

Being kept off the air happened against their will and took place amid press and social media speculation about their futures to which they had right of reply, they added.

The stress of the “bogus” process, a year of uncertainty and publicity about their careers has caused distress and has affected their health, they said. The BBC has denied the claims.

Ms Croxall, who has worked for the BBC since October 1991, has been a chief presenter with the BBC News Channel and BBC World News since 2001. She has also appeared on BBC One network news bulletins.

Since March 2012, Ms Madera has been a chief presenter with the BBC News Channel and BBC World News, and also appeared on BBC1 network news bulletins.

She described her work as “a huge part of who I am and I am very proud to work for BBC News”.

Ms McVeigh, who has worked for the BBC since October 1995, has been a chief presenter with the BBC News Channel and BBC World News, since 2006. She has also appeared on BBC network news.

Ms Giannone starting working for the BBC in January 2005. She became a permanent staff member in April 2008 and has been a chief presenter on BBC World News and the BBC News Channel.