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Former BBC presenter wins age discrimination case

Ex-Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly has won an employment tribunal against the BBC on the grounds of ageism, following her dismissal when the programme was moved to a primetime slot.

Miriam O'Reilly
Miriam O'Reilly
Image: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Press Association Images

FORMER BBC TELEVISION presenter Miriam O’Reilly has won an employment tribunal against the BBC on the grounds of age discrimination.

O’Reilly, 53, was dropped from BBC’s rural affairs programme Countryfile along with three other female presenters, all aged in their 40s or 50s, when the show moved to a primetime Sunday evening slot in 2009. She had been working on the programme eight years as a freelance presenter, the BBC reports.

The court also upheld a further claim of victimisation, after O’Reilly said she felt forced to leave the BBC entirely after she was unfairly blamed for media coverage that was critical of the organisation for its treatment of the female presenters in question. The court rejected a further allegation of sexism.

The BBC issued a statement to say that it accepted the findings of the court and also offered an apology to O’Reilly. It said that it would give further training to senior editorial executives and will issue new guidelines concerning fair procedures:

We accept the findings of the Tribunal and would like to apologise to Miriam. We will be speaking to her… The BBC is committed to fair selection in every aspect of our work and we clearly did not get it right in this case.

O’Reilly told MediaGuardian.co.uk: ”Words cannot describe how happy I feel. It’s historic and it’s going to have huge implications for all broadcasters.”

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