BBC settles 'colonial mentality' claim by World Service journalist

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The Independent Online

The BBC paid an out-of-court settlement yesterday of up to £50,000 to a journalist who claimed the BBC World Service was dominated by white men with a colonial mentality.

Sharan Sandhu, 51, who worked for the BBC's World Service for 12 years, had claimed her office was dominated by "Oxbridge types or tabloid, drinking journalists".

She claimed she was repeatedly passed over for promotion, between 1991 and 1999, because of her colour and gender . The case was settled after nine days when the BBC said she had withdrawn her complaint to the central London tribunal.

Following the settlement, the BBC said it did not accept that her career was affected by discrimination. She is understood to have demanded an automatic promotion and a £250,000 payout when she first brought the complaint.

In a statement, the corporation said: "The BBC is very happy that this case has been resolved amicably and that Sharan Sandhu has withdrawn her complaint to the tribunal.

"The BBC does not accept that Sharan's career was affected by sex or race discrimination. The BBC has shown Sharan exceptional goodwill and generosity. We do not recognise the colonial mentality she described."

The corporation said it agreed to allow her a two-year break to start up a business, and let her return months later when it ran into trouble.

It also said that a special shift was designed for her when she returned from a period of sickness, which stopped her from working at nights.

"The BBC stands by the selection procedures, both successful and unsuccessful, that Sharan went through and believes that the procedures are demonstrably fair."

Ms Sandhu, an Asian woman who grew up in Africa before coming to the UK in 1968, said: "I'm quite relieved that it's all over."