A senior editor at the BBC has accused the Corporation of paying ethnic minority staff nearly £20,000 a year less than white colleagues, the Standard can reveal.

Saleem Patka is suing the BBC for race discrimination, claiming that staff earned less simply because of the colour of their skin.

 In legal documents seen by the Standard, Mr Patka, a senior manager at the World Service languages unit in London, claimed Freedom of Information figures showed World Service languages staff were paid an average of £7,400 less than staff on the same grade in network news.  At his level he said the difference in average pay was over £18,700 a year.

He claimed the main reason for the pay gap was because 74.4 per cent of World Service languages staff in London had black and minority ethnic backgrounds, while 80.2 per cent of network news staff had white backgrounds. Mr Patka, of Indian origin, has been embroiled in a two-year legal battle over his claims, which the Corporation is contesting.

This comes after a row over salary gaps between men and women at the BBC, sparked when China editor Carrie Gracie quit after learning male that international editors earned “at least 50 per cent more” than her.

Mr Patka, a former night editor of the Today programme, and editor of BBC Worldwide’s main news programme World Briefing, complained he had suffered pay-related race discrimination since May 2010.

Outlining his case at a preliminary hearing in 2016, an employment judge said: “The claimant’s case… is that on the grounds of race the salary he was offered at the three managerial roles that he held since 2010 was at a lower level than that which was offered or would have been offered to white managers in network news at the same level doing the same work as him.

“He says that it was on racial grounds because the decisions as to the level of salary were made in accordance with the policy or practice to pay those in World Service (the overwhelming majority of whom were not white British) at a lower level than those in network news (the overwhelming majority of whom were white British).

“His case is that that policy or practice was racially discriminatory because the difference in pay between the two groups was due to the difference in the racial composition of the two groups.” In response, the BBC said pay at Mr Patka’s level was “determined on an individual basis taking into account a number of factors”.   It also said the statistics were not drawn from “truly comparable groups”.

Mr Patka had also pursued an internal grievance. It was initially refused, but in October 2016 Graham Ellis, the BBC’s deputy director for radio, partly upheld his complaint, court documents show. Mr Ellis concluded the difference in pay was “neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory”, but considered his pay should be set “at around £100,000”.

In 2017, the Corporation aligned median pay for World Service and BBC Monitoring journalists with that of their counterparts in network news.  A BBC spokeswoman said: “We are defending this claim.”

Mr Patka declined to comment.

Written By: Benedict Moore-Bridger

First Published 30.04.18: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/bbc-pays-ethnic-minority-staff-20k-a-year-less-than-white-employees-a3826951.html