BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon has admitted that the broadcaster has taken too long to deal with “bruising” equal pay cases.

However, she told MSPs that BBC bosses were “intent on fixing” a situation she said was “not good enough”.

Her remarks came yesterday during questioning by Holyrood’s Culture Committee, which was considering the BBC’s annual report.

MacKinnon said: “We have been dealing with these equal pay cases and many other pay inquiries over the course of the last two years.

“In this last year I have to admit the process has taken too long, I think it has been a bruising experience for those who have been involved in it, who have raised queries about their pay, and I thoroughly regret that.

“We are doing our best to deal with these cases, to examine them thoroughly, that can take time because you can be dealing with some pay cases that go back decades. But I do think we are intent on fixing this situation, it is not good enough, it is one I personally wish we didn’t have.”

READ MORE: SNP complain to BBC over 'basic errors' in National rally coverage

Joan McAlpine, the committee convener, claimed that in some cases, the “dice were loaded” against female staff complaining about their salary.

“There is concern, certainly amongst the people I have spoken to, that you are not treating enough of these cases as equal pay cases and the dice are loaded against the women, because the BBC are employing HR specialists and lawyers to deal with this and the women fighting the cases don’t have that advantage,” she said.

Glyn Isherwood, group finance and operations director for the BBC, said across the corporation as a whole around 1300 pay queries were being dealt with, many as a result of a new framework aimed at making salaries more transparent.

The National:

He said 74 of the cases raised were in Scotland, with only a “handful” of them outstanding.

Isherwood said: “The reason we don’t want to go into an exact number, is it such a small number we don’t want to relate it to individuals.”

This was the first time bosses had appeared before the committee since the launch of the new BBC Scotland channel, and MacKinnon said they were “very proud” of what it had achieved.

“More than one in six of audiences in Scotland are watching the channel every week,” she said.

“Requests to view our programmes on the iPlayer have risen by more than 100% this year to more than 50 million.

“And crucially, the channel is adding unique reach for the BBC in Scotland, most notably amongst younger audiences.

“Although it’s early days into the channel, and we still have challenges in some aspects of the schedule, we’re delighted that our new child is doing well and we believe it will continue to grow its audience and gain industry plaudits.”

READ MORE: BBC ‘to face a dozen equal pay claims’ in tribunal

As the committee met, a two-week equal pay tribunal brought against the BBC by radio and TV presenter Samira Ahmed was coming to an end.

Ahmed claimed she had been underpaid for hosting the audience feedback show Newswatch when compared with Jeremy Vine’s salary for Points of View and was seeking almost £700,000 in back pay.

However, the BBC said the two performed “very different roles”, for which Vine was paid £3000 per episode from 2008 to 2018, compared with Ahmed’s £440.

Ahmed said in a statement: “I just ask why the BBC thinks I am worth only a sixth of the value of the work of a man for doing a very similar job.”

As the tribunal came to an end, she tweeted: “Fascinating insight into what BBC thinks of the 1.9m licence fee paying audience of @newswatchBbc.

“Their QC actually said presenting the programme was like ‘playing piano to a ballet class of 10 children’.”