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BBC settles following "pay discrimination" row

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The UK’s biggest broadcaster will face greater scrutiny over whether it pays female stars the same as male colleagues following a legal dispute which was settled out of court earlier this month.

Several female members of staff at the BBC had taken issue with their salaries and a confidential settlement was eventually reached, following talks between the corporation and the employees’ lawyers.

The women were given guidance by one-time Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly, who had herself pursued a successful employment claim against the BBC several years ago.

“The onus is on the woman to prove that she’s doing the same job as the man and, since people are very protective about their job and their pay, it’s very difficult to get that information,” she told the Sunday Times.

“This is not a case of fill my boots, I want more money, I deserve it. They have taken their fight for equal pay forward on principle.”

While the settlement could well pave the way for further claims being brought at the BBC, some pay equality campaigners are frustrated that a deal was reached behind closed doors.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, a leading charity, said the outcome meant that pay discrimination remained “hidden.”

Following the settlement, a BBC spokesman said: “We wouldn’t comment on staff pay matters. We are fully committed to ensuring all staff are treated fairly and we abide by equal pay legislation.”