Leading BBC radio presenter John Humphrys has sparked a backlash after he was recorded appearing to mock the corporation’s gender pay gap.
Bosses are thought to be angry with the 74-year-old presenter of Radio 4’s Today programme over an off-air conversation also involving North America editor Jon Sopel.
It came just hours after China editor Carrie Gracie quit her role as she was being underpaid compared to her male counterparts.
During the conversation, Mr Humphrys, who took a pay cut after last year’s BBC rich list revealed he made up to £650,000 a year, asked Mr Sopel how much he would ‘hand over to Carrie Gracie to keep her’.
Saying that he had ‘handed over already more than you f***ing earn, Mr Humphrys added: ‘But I’m still left with more than anybody else and that seems to me entirely just.’
Mr Sopel attempted to defuse the situation by replying ‘don’t’, but Mr Humphrys continued.
He said: ‘Oh dear God she’s actually suggested you should lose money. You know that don’t you?’
The BBC reported its management are said to be ‘deeply unimpressed’ by the recording.
Ms Gracie moved to another role within the BBC and hit out at its ‘secretive and illegal’ pay structure when it was revealed that Mr Sopel earned up to £250,000 and Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen made up to £200,000.
In contrast, Ms Gracie was paid £135,000, but was offered a pay rise of £45,000 when she threatened to resign.
Mr Humphrys told The Times that his comments were not intended as a criticism of Ms Gracie.
He said: ‘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.’
In a statement, the BBC described the conversation as ‘ill-advised’, adding that Mr Humphrys ‘regrets’ it.
It is ‘committed to getting its pay structures right’, the statement continued.