Northern Ireland news

Donna Traynor says settlement figure ‘exaggerated' in speculation

Former BBC newsreader Donna Traynor leaving the Office of the Industrial Tribunals (PA/Liam McBurney)
Cillian Sherlock, PA

Former newsreader Donna Traynor has said the amount paid in the settlement of her tribunal case against the BBC has been “exaggerated” in speculation.

Traynor, a former BBC Newsline presenter, had alleged she was discriminated against on the basis of age, sex and disability.

The industrial tribunal was resolved without any admission of liability in Belfast on Friday.

The BBC and its Northern Ireland director Adam Smyth were respondents in the case.

In a social media post on Saturday, Traynor said: “There has been speculation about the amount to be paid in the settlement of my employment tribunal case against the BBC and Adam Smyth.

“This figure has been exaggerated.

“While I am very happy with what was agreed, I want to make it clear that I brought this case for more important reasons than simply compensation.

“I believe I have achieved this and now intend to put the matter behind me.”

Speaking at the conclusion of proceedings on Friday, Mr Smyth said he wished Traynor well in the future but would not comment on any financial settlement.

When the case opened on Wednesday, Traynor’s counsel, Patrick Lyttle KC, said she had faced bullying and harassment following her opposition to a BBC plan to move her to a radio position several days a week in 2019.

But on Friday, the hearing, which had been expected to last for several days, was halted when a settlement between the parties was announced.

Mr Lyttle read out a short agreed statement between the two sides.

It stated: “The dispute between Donna Traynor and the BBC and Adam Smyth has ended, without any admission of liability on the part of either respondent.

“Donna Traynor acknowledges the BBC and Adam Smyth continue to refute strongly all the allegations made against them, including the claims made on the opening day of the tribunal.

“The parties are pleased that this matter has been brought to a conclusion and intend to put it behind them.”

The statement made no reference to costs or any financial settlement.

Adam Smyth
Adam Smyth (PA/Liam McBurney)

Traynor left the tribunal without making any further comment about the settlement.

When asked by the PA news agency whether she was relieved that the case was over, Traynor said: “It’s a gorgeous day, isn’t it?”

But she tweeted: “My employment tribunal case is now settled and over.

“Many thanks to everyone who has sent me supportive messages in recent times. Wishing you well. Donna.”

Speaking to the media as he left the hearing, Mr Smyth said: “You have heard the joint statement, we are very glad to have reached a resolution. We wish Donna all the best for the future.”

Asked whether there had been a financial settlement in the case, Mr Smyth said: “You have heard the joint statement, I refer you to that.

“We don’t have any comment to make about the settlement beyond what has been said in the tribunal.”

Asked about the use of public money in the case, Mr Smyth said: “The only comment I have to make about licence fee-payers’ money is that we treat it very carefully and very sensitively and we think about every penny that we spend.

“You will have heard that we strongly refuted all of the accusations against us, that is our position.

“The settlement we have reached today is acceptable.”

Traynor resigned in November 2021 after nearly 33 years at the broadcaster.

She had raised a formal grievance after refusing to accept a plan that would have involved her moving to presenting the Evening Extra radio show several nights a week.

When the tribunal opened on Wednesday, her legal team had argued she was a victim of “age discrimination, sex discrimination and disability discrimination”.

Her barrister had said that she was presented on her 55th birthday with the plan which would have involved her moving to radio on some evenings.

He had alleged sex discrimination because, he said, Traynor was to be moved to radio to “settle a gender imbalance” issue at Radio Ulster.

Mr Lyttle had also said Traynor had repeatedly raised concerns about working on radio because she is deaf in her left ear.

Traynor joined the BBC in 1989 and presented radio news bulletins before moving into TV.

She has been nominated twice for the Royal Television Society award for presenter of the year.

Northern Ireland news