CLACTON MP Giles Watling challenged BBC director-general Tony Hall on whether he had “let down” the corporation over the issue of equal pay.

Lord Hall denied there is an “old boys’ network” at the BBC when he appeared before the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Wednesday.

Lord Hall defended his tenure when he was questioned by Mr Watling after Carrie Gracie gave evidence to the committee following her resignation as the BBC’s China editor in a row over unequal pay.

Ms Gracie told MPs she had been offered £100,000 in back pay by the BBC, who she said explained her lower salary as being because she had been “in development” in the role.

Lord Hall also told Mr Watling he believed he had not let the BBC down in his nearly five years at its helm.

He added: “I really believe in getting women’s place in the workplace right, I’ve been really helping to promote more women into senior positions, working to get more women on the air - Carrie was one of those - that is what I’ve been pushing for.”

Mr Watling played Oswald the vicar in Carla Lane’s Eighties sitcom Bread, which was produced by the BBC.

He said: “As an ex regular employee of the BBC, I’m sad this great organisation has come to this state.

“In my view, poor management is responsible.

“Equal pay is a thorny issue, but when you look at cases such as that of Carrie Gracie, the BBC’s former China editor who quit in protest, you discover people doing the same job and the same amount of work and not being paid the same.

“People should be paid equally for the work the same work, whether they are a man or a woman.”

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

  • BBC director-general Tony Hall gave evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Earlier in the committee, Lord Hall had said the BBC did not discriminate against Ms Gracie, but that there were “differences in the work” between her post and that of the North America and Middle East roles filled by men.

A review, commissioned by the BBC and published on Tuesday, found there was “no evidence of gender bias in pay decision-making”.