Off-air discussion on equal pay nothing to do with…

Off-air discussion on equal pay nothing to do with…

He said: "It was not meant for any other ears than Jon's, although there happened to be a producer in the studio at the time - a woman as it happens, who thought it was very amusing, because they know about the relationship that I have with Jon". She's actually suggested that you should lose money - you know that don't you?

He told Sopel: "Oh dear God she's actually suggested you should lose money".

The conversation, deemed by the pair as nothing "silly banter between old mates" was met with scorn from top BBC bosses who were "deeply unimpressed".

"Winifred Robinson was stood down for tweeting support for I expect the same will now happen with Mr Humphrys".

In the recording, Humphrys appeared to joke about the resignation of Carrie Gracie, who left her post as BBC News' China editor earlier this week after learning that she earned significantly less than male worldwide editors in the corporation.

Gracie quit her post as China Editor on Sunday night over an alleged "secretive and illegal pay culture" at the BBC.

It showed Sopel, the USA editor, earned £200,000-£249,999, while Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen earned £150,000-£199,999.

"We are in the habit, Jon and I, of winding each other up and the goal of this jokey - emphasise jokey - exchange was a bit of mutual mickey-taking and that is all it was", he said.

One insider said the BBC co-workers of Mr Humphrys were furious.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "I think the Prime Minister is very clear that tackling injustices like the gender pay gap is part of building a country that works for everyone and she has said she wants to see women paid equally with men and it's important the BBC continues to take this seriously and carries on publishing figures in the future so we can see the progress they are making".

Humphrys: "Good, 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 and the other men who are earning too much..." 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.

'It was nothing to do with Carrie's campaign'. Indeed, the BBC has banned Woman's Hour presenter Jane Garvey and Radio 4 presenter Winifred Robinson from reporting on it due to their views in favour of closing the gender pay gap, so surely, it's high time they extend that ban to men who are obviously in favour of maintaining the status quo.

Former journalist Miriam O'Reilly, who won a tribunal against the corporation in 2011, claimed to have heard the recording of the conversation between Mr Humphrys and Mr Sopel.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "This was an ill-advised off-air conversation which the presenter regrets".

The BBC has come under fire over its gender pay gap again after male presenters were caught laughing about the shameful conduct of the corporation.

"PwC are working with us on this to ensure an objective external assessment of how we have set pay in the past, what we need to do differently going forward, and what further action we need to take immediately".

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