The BBC paid out more than £600,000 to deal with employment tribunal claims last year, nearly £400,000 of which went on settlements to aggrieved staff.
According to information obtained via a Freedom of Information request, some 33 employees brought cases against the broadcaster in 2010, of which 22 were settled, five withdrawn or dismissed and four are still ongoing. One case was won in full by the BBC and another was partially won by the claimant.
A total of £379,125 went on payments to disgruntled former personnel, while a further £203,627 plus VAT was spent on external lawyers’ fees. Another £24,386 plus VAT was paid out as a contribution toward a claimant’s legal costs, bringing the total to £607,138 plus a tax bill of at least £34,201.
The figure does not include work undertaken by the broadcaster’s in-house employment lawyers or claims brought against BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s commercial arm.
The BBC recently fought a high profile employment tribunal claim brought by former Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly, who claimed she was the victim of age and sex discrimination when she was dropped from a revamped version of the rural affairs programme that was due to be shown at prime time. The broadcaster denies the allegations and the tribunal panel has reserved judgement in the case.
A spokesman for the BBC told the PA newswire: “The BBC is a responsible employer and cases of employment tribunal claims being upheld against us are extremely rare. On occasion, we have chosen to reach a quick settlement rather than incur expensive legal costs in order to make best use of licence fee payers’ money.”