BBC journalist and presenter, Samira Ahmed, has revealed that she was motivated to file a sex discrimination lawsuit against the corporation due to Madonna’s influence.
She won a landmark judgment against the BBC in 2020 after arguing that she was underpaid in comparison to Jeremy Vine.
Ahmed said that witnessing Madonna testify in a court case in 1996 empowered her to challenge her employer, reported The Telegraph.
Ahmed, then BBC correspondent in Los Angeles, was in the courtroom when Madonna provided testimony in the trial of a stalker who had unlawfully entered her residence and made death threats in 1996.
According to the presenter, Madonna’s boldness inspired her ‘like a wilder older sister’
“Indeed, it led to me going into a courtroom of my own in 2020 with my successful sex discrimination equal pay tribunal win, 24 years after I watched her testify in court. She is still my queen. Madonna, take a bow,” she in Radio Times.
Three years ago, an employment tribunal in London ruled in favour of Ahmed after she argued that she should receive equal compensation for hosting Newswatch as Vine did for hosting Points of View.
According to reports, Ahmed was paid £440 per episode while Vine was paid £3,000 even though the shows were similar in content.
The British Asian presenter also said that women are under greater pressure to maintain their appearance on television, whereas men are less likely to face criticism for their looks.
BBC bosses argued that Vine brought a distinct charm to his role that justified a higher salary. The tribunal dismissed this claim and criticised the organisation for lacking a transparent and consistent process to determine pay for its on-air talent.
“No woman desires to take legal action against her employer. I hold a strong affection for working at the BBC. I’m now excited to continue performing my duties, reporting on stories, rather than being one,” Ahmed was quoted as saying during the period.
Ahmed spent two years in Los Angeles and covered significant events in Madonna’s life from 1995 to 1997, including the birth of her daughter Lourdes Leon and the premiere of her film Evita.
“I concealed a secret all along – that as a young woman, as a feminist, as a journalist, I secretly held an intense fascination for this woman, yet hesitated to openly express my affection and admiration,” she said.
Madonna’s legal case concluded with her stalker, Robert Dewey Hoskins, receiving a 10-year prison sentence.