‘Very serious’: British public rocked by BBC presenter claims

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

London: A crisis at Britain’s BBC over alleged payments by an unnamed star to a young person for explicit images deepened on Tuesday (UK time) when its news division reported that the male presenter had sent abusive messages to a second person, aged in their early 20s.

The new revelation came after the BBC sought to defend its handling of the growing scandal, after acknowledging that it did not flag the first complaint to senior management for seven weeks until a tabloid newspaper approached it about the story.

BBC Headquarters in London.Credit: AP

The scandal at the BBC has dominated national newspapers and television bulletins since it broke on Friday night, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak describing the allegations as “very serious and concerning”.

Britain’s leading broadcaster has been rocked by a report in the Sun newspaper that the presenter had paid a young person £35,000 ($67,000) for explicit photos over three years, beginning when the person was 17.

The presenter has been suspended but not named, angering other high-profile stars who have fallen under suspicion on social media.

BBC News said on Tuesday it had been contacted by a second young person – unconnected to the first – who said they had been approached by the presenter on a dating app.

When the person, who never met the presenter, hinted online that they would reveal his identity, they were sent abusive, expletive-filled messages, the BBC said.

BBC News said it had verified that the messages were sent from a phone belonging to the presenter. It said it had received no response to the latest allegations from either the presenter or his lawyer.

The scandal took a further twist on Monday when the corporation said it had received a letter from a lawyer acting for the young person in the original case, to say the allegations were “rubbish”.

Police are examining the circumstances to establish whether there was evidence of a criminal offence. “There remains no police investigation at this time,” they said.

The age of consent for sex in England is 16, but images of someone under 18 can be considered child pornography.

According to a timeline published by the broadcaster, a member of the young person’s family walked into a BBC building on May 18 to make a complaint. The family member contacted BBC Audience Services the next day.

The BBC said it made two unsuccessful attempts – one email and one phone call – to respond to the complainant.

The Sun contacted the BBC seven weeks later on July 6 with different allegations, the broadcaster said on Tuesday, and senior management were informed for the first time.

“The events of recent days have shown how complex and challenging these kinds of cases can be and how vital it is that they are handled with the utmost diligence and care,” BBC Director General Tim Davie told reporters after the corporation published its annual report.

Davie, who said he had not personally spoken to the presenter, said the new information provided by the Sun on July 6 “clearly related to potential criminal activity”.

Funded by a licence fee paid by every TV-watching household, the BBC often faces criticism as it tries to be impartial. Earlier this year its highest paid presenter Gary Lineker sparked a free-speech row by criticising the government’s immigration policy.

It faced its gravest crisis in 2012 when it emerged that Jimmy Savile, one of the most recognisable TV personalities of the 1970s and 80s, was a prolific sex offender.

The corporation is now trying to investigate the claim against the presenter, protect that person’s privacy while the facts are established, and respond publicly to the allegations, all while avoiding placing high-profile staff under suspicion.


Get a note directly from our foreign correspondents on what’s making headlines around the world. Sign up for the weekly What in the World newsletter here.

Most Viewed in World

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article