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Monday, 23 November 2009

The thankful quota presenters

TV newsreader claims colleague did 'racist' impression of Sir Trevor McDonald

From the Daily Mail

Lisa Aziz, 47, says she was 'set up' by senior managers over alleged expenses abuses

A television newsreader who is suing ITV for £5million for racial discrimination claims a colleague mocked Sir Trevor McDonald's accent.

Lisa Aziz alleges that co-presenter Steve Scott 'regularly mimicked' the newsreader's voice during rehearsals.

Scott, a former Africa correspondent and regular presenter of ITV's lunchtime and weekend bulletins, is also said to have imitated the voice of a black weatherman as well as mimicking Pakistani and Irish accents.

An internal investigation found he was guilty of impersonating colleagues, but insisted the behaviour was good-humoured rather than racist.

The accusations over Mr Scott's conduct were revealed in legal action by Miss Aziz, 47, who is suing ITV for race, sex and age discrimination.

Miss Aziz, who was the first Asian presenter of a national terrestrial news programme, says she has been a victim of 'a cult of youth' and 'institutional racism' at the troubled broadcaster.

She compares herself to Selina Scott and Moira Stewart and former Strictly Come Dancing presenter Arlene Phillips, who she says were all 'targeted for removal'.

Miss Aziz and Mr Scott presented the nightly news programme at ITV West Country in Bristol until she was suspended from her £160,000-a-year job for alleged abuse of expenses.

She claims she was 'set up' by senior managers on a bogus charge as part of a cost-cutting exercise and is now demanding £5million in compensation for loss of earnings, damages, and hurt feelings.

The television company has branded her claims 'baseless' but executives are said to be dreading the case, which is due to be heard next June.

In legal papers submitted to Bristol Employment Tribunal, Miss Aziz explains: 'In the media industry, there is a cult of youth or what may be described as institutional ageism.'
Sir Trevor McDonald
Steve SCott

Imitation: In legal papers, Miss Aziz claims co-presenter Steve Scott, pictured right with ITV's Katie Derham, mimicked Sir Trevor McDonald's accent

She continues: 'Hence, capable older female presenters such as Selina Scott, Arlene Phillips, Moira Stewart and I are targeted for removal so that younger female presenters can take our place.

'The same age discrimination does not apply to male presenters who receive positive and preferential pay and treatment.

'In fact, older male presenters are treated as a vintage bottle of wine, maturing with the years.'

She says of her former colleague: 'Mr Scott is a racist and regularly makes derogatory remarks about or otherwise demeans [weatherman] Alex Beresford.

'Mr Scott would remark, in an accent, "arks me a question", and "oh goodness gracious me".'

Miss Aziz says the day after she complained about Mr Scott's conduct, he put on a Pakistani accent.

Mr Scott has declined to comment on the tribunal claims, but has reportedly told friends he has never imitated Sir Trevor and that his imitations of other colleagues were not racist.

Miss Aziz was suspended this summer after making seven wrongful expenses claims - including a £5.75 bill for dry cleaning a child's top.

But she insists she was 'ambushed' by her head of news and a human resources manager.

She said: 'The disciplinary allegations and process are a sham. It was a set up to remove me and replace me with a younger white woman.

'I was devastated and suffered stress and depression as a result.'

In a statement ITV said: 'ITV does not ordinarily comment when employee investigations or disciplinary proceedings are active.

'However on this occasion, given the allegations which have been levelled at the company and a number of employees, we feel that we are left with little choice but to vehemently deny any discriminatory behaviour.'


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