BBC Radio 4 host John Humphrys criticised over gender pay gap comments

He reportedly joked about the resignation of Carrie Gracie

John Humphrys has been criticised after he was recorded making light of a gender pay gap row that has engulfed the BBC.

The Radio 4 Today show host reportedly joked 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 international editors within the corporation.

In an audio clip obtained by The Times, Humphrys is reportedly heard speaking to the BBC’s North America editor Jon Sopel ahead of a planned interview with Gracie.

“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 [Jeremy Bowen] and the other men who are earning too much”, Humphrys tells Sopel.

Carrie Gracie (right) left her role as BBC China Editor

“I mean, obviously if we are talking about the scope for the greatest redistribution I’ll have to come back and say well yes Mr Humphrys, but”, Sopel replied.

Humphrys then adds: “And I could save you the trouble as I could volunteer that I’ve handed over already more than you fucking earn but I’m still left with more than anybody else and that seems to me to be entirely just – something like that would do it?”

He later claims that Gracie “actually suggested that you should lose money – you know that don’t you? You’ve read the thing properly have you?”

Humphrys has since dismissed the comments as “silly banter between old mates.”

“This was what I thought was an exchange between two old friends who have known each other for 30 years and were taking the mickey out of each other. It was nothing to do with Carrie’s campaign”, he told The Times.

Responding to the comments on Twitter, Women’s Equality Party leader Sophie Walker wrote: “Taking this to mean John Humphreys can no longer report on the gender pay gap under the BBC’s impartiality rules. Can you confirm, @BBC?”

A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC is committed to getting its pay structures right and, as we have said, we are conducting a comprehensive analysis of presenter pay.”