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Tribunal reserves judgement on BBC presenter's discrimination claims

BBC's head of rural affairs' account may be "devastating blow to the BBC's case".

An employment tribunal in London reserved its judgement on the former Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly's claims that she was victim of age and gender bias, after the final day of arguments.

While O'Reilly told the tribunal that she and two more female presenters - all aged between 40 and 50 - were rejected for a prime time version of the show because their gender and age did not fit the new-look show, the corporation's head of rural affairs, Andrew Thorman, said the former BBC1 controller, Jay Hunt, rejected them saying: "I think their experience is mainly radio, no."

On Wednesday, the last day of hearing in the case, O'Reilly's legal representative, Heather Williams QC, said "If you accept Mr Thorman's account mainly that Ms Hunt made the decision and conveyed it in a sentence ... it is a pretty devastating blow to the BBC's case."

However, Jason Galbraith-Marten, representing the BBC, said the corporation insisted that prime-time television experience and the ability to appeal to prime-time audiences are a must in its six-point list of requirements.

Williams argued that there was no documentary evidence of the six-strong criteria.