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She is hunting down the facts, setting them in the legal context, reviewing the application of the law in employment tribunals, and shining a laser beam of light into the murky and secretive world of BBC pay policy.

It also said an independent audit of rank and file staff had found "no systemic discrimination against women" at the BBC. Equality Act 2010 means no hiding place for shameful discrimination against women.

The list published previous year showed that two-thirds of the BBC's highest earners were men, with the highest-paid woman earning less than a quarter of the highest-earning male star.

In her letter Gracie said she had learned last year that of the four worldwide editors in the past four years at the BBC, two males had earned more than their female counterparts.

Fellow female BBC journalists including Kirsty Wark, Clare Balding, Emily Maitlis and Sarah Montague have all tweeted in support of Ms Gracie's case.

After learning the truth via the publication of the salaries, Gracie said she told her bosses the "only acceptable resolution would be for all the global editors to be paid the same amount".

A rumbling first came about last summer when the BBC published a list of its high earning stars, with only a third of women making the cut.

In the pay disclosure past year, North America editor Jon Sopel was listed as having a salary of between £200,000 and £249,999, while Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen earned between £150,000 and £199,999.

She said she was leaving her role in Beijing after learning she earned less than male worldwide editors, despite stressing when she accepted the position "that I must be paid equally with my male peers".

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has backed Carrie Gracie who has quit her post as the BBC China editor and written an open letter to licence fee payers accusing the corporation of "breaking equality law" and creating a "crisis of trust" at the public service broadcaster.

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"I am not asking for more money", Gracie said.

Up to 200 women at various levels of the organisation have made complaints about pay, according to BBC Women, a group of more than 150 broadcasters and producers.

Speaking on Radio 4's Woman's Hour, she said: "In October the BBC made me a pay offer".

"It said there were differences between roles which justified the pay gap, but it has refused to explain these differences", Gracie said.

"For BBC women this is not just a matter of one year's salary or two".

Gracie said she would stay with the BBC and "return to my former post in the TV newsroom where I expect to be paid equally". Women have to win only two out of three sets to win Grand Slam tournaments, while men have to win three out of five sets. "Let us honour that courageous generation by making this the year we win equal pay".

But in the meantime, we'll have to rely on strong women like Carrie Gracie to keep the spotlight on the issue.

"Many have since sought pay equality through internal negotiation but managers still deny there is a problem".

"We wholeheartedly support her and call on the BBC to resolve her case and others without delay, and to urgently address pay inequality across the corporation". Management have reportedly advised staff in the meeting to enforce the BBC's impartiality existing guidelines in relation to the story. Salary disclosures the BBC was forced to make six months ago revealed not only unacceptably high pay for top presenters and managers but also an indefensible pay gap between men and women doing equal work.

The Twitterverse was quick to point out the irony of the situation.


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