Countryfile’s Miriam O’Reilly has won her case against the BBC, after they sacked her for being too old.
The verteran journalist, who is only 53 is now expected to receive a payout somewhere in the region of £150,000. The BBC has accepted that they were guilty of age discrimination and will apologise, however they were cleared of sexual discrimination.
The tribunal declared that the corporation was too concerned with ethnic diversity and rejuvenation and accused them of “social engineering”. Miss O’Reilly had been told to be ‘careful about those wrinkles’, shortly before she and 3 other female staff members replaced by younger women.
Despite the stress involved, the presenter maintained that standing up to the BBC was “the right thing to do”. She also made it clear that she never wanted to leave her job “there are still years in me yet!”
The BBC has now been forced to review its policy regarding the age of presenters, and it is expected that a whole string of older faces will grace out screens in the coming months. One of which could be Miss O’Reilly, as she is reportedly considering fresh offers from the BBC.
The corporation has apparently already offered the Countryfile presenter £80,000 to keep quiet and drop the dispute. However by rejecting this offer and going forward with the case, she is said to have achieved a “historic” victory.
Naturally, the BBC denied that her being let going was anything to do with age and was more about rejuvenating the programme and attempting to capture a younger audience. However, internal emails published by the hearing showed that the Beeb were attempting to head off claims that Countryfile was ‘dumbing down’.
These emails also made remarks about the ages of the other presenters on the show.
BBC director general Mark Thompson has since apologised to Miss O’Reilly and said the BBC would be speaking to her to ‘discuss working with her again’.