THE risks that Carrie Gracie took when she became the BBC’s China editor should not be under-estimated – she was working 5,000 miles away from her teenage children in “a heavily censored one-party state” where she faced “surveillance, police harassment and official intimidation” as the fluent Mandarin speaker, with 30 years of journalistic experience, faced the most challenging job of her career.
Yet, despite Ms Gracie being world renowned for her expertise, it is her letter castigating her bosses for double standards that it is likely to have the greatest impact after she exposed the BBC’s rank hypocrisy over equal pay. One of four international editors, she has quit her role in Beijing after it emerged that the Corporation’s two male correspondents earned significantly more than their female counterparts. She has now rejected a token pay rise and accused her employers of breaking the law.
In a withering letter, Ms Gracie said she was not seeking more money – “I simply want the BBC to abide by the law and value men and women equally” – and that the BBC’s “bunker mentality” will lead to “an exodus of female talent at every level”. One hundred years after women belatedly won the right to the vote, it is, frankly, scandalous that a supposedly responsible employer is so rooted in the past.
If it can’t put its house in order, the Government should suspend elements of funding until it does so. After all, imagine the furore if male and female Cabinet ministers were given different rates of pay following Theresa May’s reshuffle. It would be the BBC leading the outrage.