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LONDON — The BBC has apologized to nature presenter Miriam O’Reilly after it was found guilty of age discrimination at a high profile employment tribunal.
O’ Reilly was axed by BBC1 controller Jay Hunt early last year when BBC1 moved the Sunday morning rural affairs show Countryfile into to a weekday primetime slot. Although the show’s older male anchors made the transition to primetime, O’Reilly and two other female presenters were replaced by younger presenters.
She took the BBC to court claiming that she had been dropped because managers thought she was “too old” for prime time television, and during the course of her evidence said she had been offered hair dye and been warned about getting wrinkles by production staff on the show.
O’Reilly could be in line for a significant payout after the tribunal found that the BBC had been guilty of discriminating against her on grounds of age. The tribunal also held that her subsequent treatment by BBC bosses had amounted to victimization.
The BBC seemed keen to re-build bridges with the presenter, who has more than 20 years experience with the broadcaster.
“We accept the findings of the tribunal and would like to apologize to Miriam. We will be speaking to her,” a spokesman said.
“We would like to acknowledge the important contribution Miriam has made to the BBC over more than 20 years and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss working with her again in the future.”
The pubcaster has also pledged to provide new guidelines on fairness when it comes to selecting presenters after the verdict.
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