Thursday, 14 November 2019

Who is Roger Leatham?

Roger Leatham trained as a solicitor. In 1994, he moved to the BBC to become a legal and business affairs manager, including a year's experience with BBC America. He took on that rôle in 2000 just as a young Samira Ahmed rounded off a four-year stint as BBC's Los Angeles correspondent with coverage of the OJ Simpson trial. She then joined ITN's Channel 4 News, first as a reporter then as a presenter, becoming a familiar face on the 7 o'clock bulletin. She continued on Channel 4 until 2011, during which time she worked on the Channel 4 documentary series Islam Unveiled, exploring the status of Muslim women around the world. Mr Leatham continued his career in broadcasters' business affairs, including seven months during 2007 as Head of Entertainment and Comedy Business Affairs at Channel 4. Since 2016, he has occupied similar rôles with BBC Studios, the corporation's spin-off "which, as a commercial arm of the BBC, is not covered by the [Corporation's pay] transparency rules" (quoting from a House of Commons DCMS committee report, "BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2017–18: Equal pay at the BBC").

In 2011, Samira Ahmed went freelance. Already a follower of the Stoke-born journalist, I became a fan after her radio documentary on Arnold Bennett and her appearances on The News Quiz. So I am biased. However, I suggest that an objective observer would agree she has a good case in the employment tribunal, which has just concluded its hearings, judgment reserved until the end of the year. (Newswatch is produced directly by the BBC in response to the Hutton Inquiry, Points of View now commissioned by BBC One from BBC Studios.) 

I was already shocked by Private Eye's report from the tribunal that Roger Leatham had attested that "he didn't know who the claimant was" before I started on the web searches that led to the paras above. Afterwards, it became clear that, considering the points at which their careers had coincided, Leatham was either lying or had never consumed any of the product of his employers over the years.

Coincidentally, today is Equal Pay Day. Less of a coincidence is the fact that there is no link to a BBC UK web-site in the first twelve pages of a Google search on that phrase - but two cheers to BBC (US & Canada).

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