BBC journalist has said about 12 people at the corporation could be set to launch employment tribunals over claims of unequal pay.

Carrie Gracie’s comments came as presenter Samira Ahmed faces the BBC in court, where she will question why she was paid less than a male colleague for what she says is a “very similar job”.

The Radio 4 presenter is taking the corporation to an employment tribunal this week over alleged “failure to provide equal pay for equal value work”, according to court documents.

Ahmed is asking why she was paid £465 per episode of Newswatch while Jeremy Vine, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said, was paid up to £3000 for each episode of Points Of View – work Ahmed described as comparable.

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The BBC’s legal team will argue that the two presenters were not doing similar work. Former China editor Gracie resigned from her position in January 2018 in protest at pay inequalities, becoming a figurehead for other women after she made the announcement in an open letter.

Speaking to reporters at the tribunal, Gracie called those taking action “extremely brave and determined”, more than a year after she was back-paid the same as the North America editor, whose job she said was comparable to hers at the time.

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She claimed management at the BBC was “defensive and resistant to admitting mistakes”, and said Ahmed’s case was “emblematic and extremely important to all the other women still fighting”.

“I’m aware of about a dozen cases that are in the pipeline towards a tribunal now,” she said. “It’s a slow pipe, but they are making their way towards tribunal.

“They’ve come out the end of the internal process and they are not prepared to give up at that point. These are extremely brave and determined people. None of us want this to be a stick with which to beat the BBC. We want to draw attention by means of an important story happening inside the BBC, to draw attention to a problem which is widespread in our society.”

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Gracie, among a large group supporting Ahmed at the tribunal, said there was a “very high degree of solidarity” among employees at the corporation, adding: “We will not be divided and ruled.”

Ahmed arrived at the Central London Employment Tribunal building with a group of supporters, including fellow BBC presenter Naga Munchetty and members of the NUJ, which is backing the case.

The tribunal’s entire first day took place in private while the two sides discussed legal arguments. It is expected to last until next Tuesday, with the first witnesses due to be called tomorrow.