Jo Swinson just confronted John Humphrys for his gross equal pay comments

Posted by
Emily Reynolds

John Humphrys came under fire several weeks ago for his comments on equal pay – and now Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson has confronted him about them. 

Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson has been the first to confront John Humphrys over his controversial comments on equal pay.

Swinson was appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, which Humphrys presents, to talk about sexual harassment. 

“While I’ve got you here, John, have you apologised to Carrie Gracie for the remarks that you made about equal pay,” Swinson said. 

“I wrote an email to Carrie Gracie immediately after that exchange, as a matter of fact I did. And she replied. Quite what this has to do with what we’re discussing here I fail to see but there we are. That has answered your question,” he replied. 

“It wouldn’t be the first time a question has been thrown in at the end,” Swinson responded – likely referring to the difficult curveball questions Humphrys has become known for. 

Many listening to the show supported Swinson’s comments – in part because she was the first person to directly confront him. 

Swinson’s questions relate to controversial comments Humphrys made several weeks ago about the Carrie Gracie equal pay row currently ongoing at the BBC. The comments come from a leaked conversation between Humphrys and North America editor Jon Sopel.

“Slight change of subject, the first question will be how much of your salary you are prepared to hand over to Carrie Gracie to keep her, and then a few comments about your other colleagues, you know, like our Middle East editor [Jeremy Bowen] and the other men who are earning too much.”

Sopel responds: “I mean, obviously if we are talking about the scope for the greatest redistribution I’ll have to come back and say well yes Mr Humphrys, but …”

Humphrys replies: “And I could save you the trouble as I could volunteer that I’ve handed over already more than you f**king earn but I’m still left with more than anybody else and that seems to me to be entirely just – something like that would do it?”

Sopel says: “Don’t …”

Humphrys adds: “Oh dear God. She’s actually suggested that you should lose money – you know that don’t you? You’ve read the thing properly have you?”

Humphrys defended the comments by saying they were “silly banter between old mates”.

The rest of Swinson’s interview was equally combative. “I was looking for a specific definition [of sexual harassment],” Humphrys said. “That’s the point, but I’d like to think that I know.” Swinson responded: “Well I’d like to think you did too, but I don’t think we should make those kind of assumptions.”


Image: Rex Features