Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Miriam O'Reilly wins Countryfile ageism claim

Ex-Countryfile host Miriam O'Reilly has won an employment tribunal against the BBC on the grounds of ageism and victimisation - but not sexism.

The 53-year-old claimed she had been unfairly dropped from the rural affairs show when it moved to a primetime Sunday evening slot in 2009.

O'Reilly, who was seeking compensation for alleged sex and age discrimination, said the outcome had "implications for all broadcasters, not just the BBC".
The BBC said it accepted the findings.

In a statement, it added it would "be looking at the full details".

O'Reilly said she had endured "an incredibly stressful 14 months".

"I did this because it was the right thing to do - I couldn't have lived with myself if I'd just walked away.

"I'm so pleased the judges have agreed with me."
O'Reilly, along with Juliet Morris, 45, and Michaela Strachan, 42, lost her job on Countryfile ahead of its move to Sunday evenings.
Former Watchdog host Julia Bradbury, then 38, and Matt Baker, then 30, were among new presenters who joined the revamped programme while John Craven, then 68, was kept on.

Miriam O'Reilly presenting for the BBC in 2006
O'Reilly told the tribunal she was not given a reason for her departure and was told only only that Countryfile was being "refreshed".
"It is not an exaggeration to say that I was devastated by this news," she said.
"Being dropped from the programme, I believe because of my age and sex, really affected my confidence."

But former BBC One controller Jay Hunt told the tribunal the claims were "entirely and categorically untrue" as well as "profoundly distressing and utterly offensive".
"I am a 43-year-old woman," she went on. "I have had my own difficulties surviving this industry.

"For that reason, the last thing I would ever do is ever discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender or age. Nothing could be further from my mind."

1 comment:

  1. This is good news for Ms. O'Reilly. What about all the young male presenters who are kept off the screens because of the preponderance of older men and younger women though?