BBC News Channel Presenters Take Legal Action Citing Age & Gender Discrimination — Update

UPDATED EXCLUSIVE: Five senior female BBC News channel presenters have commenced legal action against the British broadcaster after a prolonged spell on the sidelines.

Earlier on Thursday, Deadline reported that Martine Croxall was taking the BBC to an employment tribunal, according to a listing for a two-day hearing at London Central on May 1.

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Martine Croxall is the listed litigant, but multiple sources said Karin Giannone, Geeta Guru-Murthy, Kasia Madera, and Annita McVeigh are parties to the case. The presenters have been off air for over a year, though Guru-Murthy and McVeigh recently returned to the news channel.

It is the highest-profile tribunal faced by the BBC since the corporation lost a landmark gender pay battle with Newswatch host Samira Ahmed in 2020.

Details of the case against the BBC are not in the public domain, but the tribunal listing makes clear that the complaint involves issues including age and sex discrimination, and equal pay.

It represents a significant ratcheting up of a dispute over the protracted BBC News channel restructure. The female journalists failed to land a Chief Presenter role when the BBC merged its international and domestic news channels last year.

Croxall, Giannone, Guru-Murthy, Madera, and McVeigh challenged the BBC’s recruitment process as part of an internal complaints procedure. They alleged that the BBC rigged the hiring process by predetermining its preferred list of Chief Presenters before applications opened.

BBC Presenters
From left to right: Kasia Madera, Geeta Guru-Murthy, Annita McVeigh, Karin Giannone, Martine Croxall.

A senior BBC HR executive was not persuaded by their argument, despite a successful candidate saying they had a “tap on the shoulder” from managers. Deadline understands that this “whistleblower” evidence was not referenced in the internal review, with sources describing it as a “sham.”

Croxall, Giannone, and Madera have not appeared on the news channel in over a year and sources said they had been in talks with the corporation over their future. Some were offered a correspondent/presenter role, though this is considered a demotion for the experienced anchors.

In February, McVeigh and Guru-Murthy landed a Chief Presenter post after vacancies opened up. They returned to the air in recent weeks.

There are estimates that the BBC has spent at least £1M ($1.3M) on the women’s salaries, freelance cover, and acting-up pay while they have been off air.

BBC Director General Tim Davie was asked about the issue during a Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing last month. He said the corporation was working towards a “fair resolution” for the women.

“It is not a good situation where you are paying people [who are not on air] and we are trying to get it resolved as fast as possible. I recognize that it has been going on for some time,” Davie said.

The BBC News channel’s Chief Presenter team includes Matthew Amroliwala, Ben Brown, Christian Fraser, Lucy Hockings, Maryam Moshiri, and Sally Bundock in the UK, with Sumi Somaskanda and Caitríona Perry in Washington D.C. and Steve Lai in Singapore.

The BBC declined to comment.

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