Eversheds Sutherland to advise on BBC pay review in wake of gender pay gap furore

Eversheds Sutherland has been appointed by the BBC to advise on an audit of its pay structure, following the revelations of a wide gender pay gap at the broadcaster.

The law firm has been appointed alongside big four accountant PwC to work on the audit, which, according to press reports, could lead to pay cuts for some of the corporation’s biggest stars and rises for others.

Earlier this summer, the BBC’s annual report made headlines after it revealed that the corporation’s top earner – Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans, on £2.2m-£2.25m – far outstripped that of the top female earner, Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman, who takes home between £450,000 and £499,999.

Of the 96 individuals revealed to be earning more than £150,000, only 34 were women.

Other high earners include Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker on £1.75m-1.79m, chat show host Graham Norton on £850,000-£899,999 and radio presenter Jeremy Vine on £700,000-£749,999.

The report also included three of the BBC’s in-house lawyers on its highest paid list: group general counsel Sarah Jones, head of legal Peter Farrell and assistant general counsel Peter Ranyard.

Jones, who earns between £200,000 and £249,999, has been group GC at the BBC since 2012, having joined from Allen & Overy in 1996. Farrell and Ranyard, meanwhile, are both paid between £150,000 and £199,999.

The BBC was required to name all employees and presenters paid more than £150,000 by a new Royal Charter introduced by the government last year.

The disclosures come amid a wider push for gender pay transparency in the corporate sphere. In April, new regulations for UK companies were introduced that will require those with more than 250 employees to publish details of the pay gap between their male and female employees. Employers have 12 months to publish key information, including the proportion of men and women in each quarter of their pay structure.

In 2009, the BBC hired Eversheds HR head Lucy Adams to lead its HR team. She spent nearly five years at the corporation before leaving in 2014. Adams was heavily criticised by the Commons Public Accounts Committee in a hearing in 2013, over excessive payments to BBC executives leaving the organisation.