'Smug' John Humphrys defends off-air remarks about BBC pay

John Humphrys in trouble with BBC bosses after joking about gender pay gap

And because so many companies are refusing to own up to discrimination - even, like retailer Phase Eight, claiming the pay gap is the result of women choosing to do lower-paid jobs - the Women's Equality Party is calling for the redesign of gender pay gap legislation in 2018 so that organisations like the BBC can no longer hide discriminatory practices.

It, surely, can't come as a surprise to many that BBC Radio 4 Today host, John Humphrys, holds less than progressive views on the gender pay gap.

But he was caught earlier in the week making disparaging remarks after Gracie chose to leave her post as China editor after she learned that male colleagues, including Sopel, a presenter and correspondent, were earning significantly more than her. With great regret, I have left my post as China editor to speak out publicly on a crisis of trust at the BBC.

Responding to the conversation, a BBC spokesperson said: "This was an ill-advised off-air conversation which the presenter regrets".

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".

Ms Gracie has been praised for taking a stand over equal pay, accusing the BBC of a "secretive and illegal pay culture".

The private conversation took place on Monday, hours after Gracie made her resignation public, as Humphrys and Sopel pre-recorded an interview about the Trump administration. This entire debacle is little more than a confirmation of what women everywhere already know: men who out earn us are not only defensive of their exorbitant salaries but dismissive of our complaints about them.

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Last year the BBC listed all the salaries of all employees earning more than £150,000 a year, which revealed Sopel, the United States editor, earned £200,000-£249,999, while Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen earned £150,000-£199,999.

O'Reilly said her appearance on Today on Friday was "all confirmed" and she was having a final briefing with the producer on Thursday "when I said I had heard the tape".

A BBC spokeswoman denied this, saying it was because the item on the programme had become "a much broader discussion about social change" and another guest was more suitable.

The presenter told the Times the conversation had not been intended as a criticism of Ms Gracie.

"The BBC is committed to getting its pay structures right and we are conducting a comprehensive analysis of presenter pay". "It's wrong to suggest anything else".

He said on Twitter: "Sopel and Humphries now in far worse territory than Andy Gray & Richard Keys who were fired 7 years ago this month by Sky Sports".

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