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BBC criticised for spending more than £1m fighting legal battles over discrimination and pay

  • January 23, 2021

The BBC has admitted it spent over £1m on legal fees fighting equal pay and race discrimination cases brought by staff.

It did not say how much in-house lawyers dealing with the allegations had cost, but estimated they had spent 2,452 hours dealing with the claims.

Tory MP Julian Knight, whose Commons Media Select Committee was told the information in a letter by the BBC, called it “unbelievable” and “shocking”.

But a BBC spokesperson said the broadcaster was a “truly inclusive employer” and that the complexities of these types of cases “mean they need to be managed by qualified professionals”.

The new figures relate to the last three-and-a-half years.

They show the BBC spent £1,121,652 on legal representation in equal pay and race discrimination cases brought by its own staff, with external lawyers spending 2,688 hours on the legal fights.

But ongoing tribunal costs are not counted in the figures, because the BBC said that information was “commercially prejudicial”.

While the corporation said it could not calculate in-house lawyers working on the cases had cost, it said the salary for a lawyer was £46,210 to £68,800, while a senior lawyer makes £66,740 to £102,680 a year.

Mr Knight MP said the licence fee payers’ money “could have gone into making programmes”.

He added: “This disclosure sits uncomfortably against the BBC’s claim that it offers value for money.

“It must now offer a full explanation of how legal costs were allowed to escalate to such levels.

“We will be calling on the newly appointed BBC Chair Richard Sharp to investigate as a priority.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC is committed to being a truly inclusive employer.

“While we aim to manage costs efficiently and proportionately, the complexities of these cases mean they need to be managed by qualified professionals – not least to ensure fairness.”

Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/bbc-criticised-for-spending-more-than-1631m-fighting-legal-battles-over-discrimination-and-pay-12194999

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