Miriam O'Reilly, a former presenter on the BBC's Countryfile, has won an age discrimination claim against the corporation in relation to her axing from the rural affairs programme.
On Tuesday, the London Central employment tribunal found in favour of O'Reilly's claims on the grounds of ageism and victimisation but did not uphold a further claim for sex discrimination, the PA reports. The tribunal said that it was unlikely that O'Reilly would have been removed from the programme had she been ten or fifteen years younger.
Speaking to the media after the ruling, O'Reilly said that she was delighted at the outcome. But she added that she still felt a strong attachment to the BBC, "one of the best broadcast organisations in the world".
"Standing up to the BBC was the right thing to do, however hurtful, however stressful it has been," she said.
"I would like to go back to work for the BBC. I took this action because I wanted to work for the BBC."
O'Reilly, 53, was axed from Countryfile in November 2008 along with three other female presenters, all over the age of 40. The four women were shown the door prior to the programme's move from its traditional Sunday morning timeslot to the evening primetime.
When the programme returned the following year, its new primary presenters were Julia Bradbury, then 38, and Matt Baker, then 30. 68-year-old John Craven, a Countryfile veteran, remained on the programme as the presenter of a special feature segment.
Countryfile has aired on the BBC since 1988, featuring weekly reports on rural and environmental issues.
'We clearly did not get it right'
In a statement, the corporation accepted the tribunal's findings and acknowledged that it had made a mistake by dumping O'Reilly from her Countryfile role.
"The BBC is committed to fair selection in every aspect of our work and we clearly did not get it right in this case," it 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 BBC1 controller at the time of O'Reilly's departure, Jay Hunt, gave evidence during the tribunal's hearing in November, claiming that O'Reilly "did not meet the criteria we set for the show" upon its move to primetime.
Hunt, who has since moved to Channel 4, has seen her reputation damaged as a result of the row. She was forced to fend off claims that she "hated women", and denied suggestions that she dismissed the existing presenters' credentials in a single throwaway line.
She commenced her new position as Channel 4's chief creative officer the day before the tribunal handed down its judgement.
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