BBC presenter scandal: Suspended host wasn’t asked about sex picture claims for 7 weeks
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The BBC has said it did not bring up the sex picture allegations made by the youth’s family to the top presenter until July 6, seven weeks after they were first raised. According to a timeline released by the broadcaster, the claims were first received on May 18, but the BBC was unable to contact them to respond.
The BBC director-general Tim Davie was also made aware of the claims on Thursday, July 6 - the same day the presenter was told, and just a day before The Sun broke the story on the front page. The corporation now says it has paused its investigation at the request of the police.
The Sun, in its report, claimed that a BBC presenter with “household name” had paid a young person over £35,000 for sexually explicit pictures since they were 17. According to the mum who was interviewed by the paper, the payments, which were sent over the period of three years, were used to fund her child’s crack cocaine addiction.
However, the story took a turn when the young person, now aged 20, broke their silence and denied the reports, claiming through a lawyer in a legal letter sent to the BBC that they are “rubbish” and “nothing inappropriate” or “unlawful” has taken place.
The young person’s mother and stepfather then spoke with the tabloid in an updated interview, claiming they have a dossier of evidence including bank transactions, screenshots of messages between the pair and even held a one-hour briefing with the BBC.
It was reported on May 19 that the family of the complainant allegedly requested that the broadcaster order the individual to "stop sending the cash". The family reportedly got frustrated when the presenter was still on the air a month later and approached The Sun instead.
In June, the youth reportedly received a £1,000 payment from the host via PayPal Their mother said they "suddenly had this cash" after running out of money. She claimed the BBC hadn’t spoken to the host “as they thought he was too important”.
This is confirmed by the BBC’s own timeline, which says "On 18 May, the complainant (a family member) attended a BBC building, where they sought to make a complaint about the behaviour of a BBC presenter".
Then it says: "On 19 May, the complainant contacted BBC Audience Services; the details of this contact were referred to the BBC’s Corporate Investigations Team."
The timeline adds: "On 19 May, the BBC’s Corporate Investigations Team emailed the complainant stating how seriously the BBC takes the issue and seeking additional information to verify the claims being made; there was no response to this contact.
"On 19 May, checks were also made to verify the identity of the complainant. This is a standard procedure to confirm that the complainant is the person they say they are.
"On 6 June, having received no response to the email referenced above, a phone call was made to the mobile number provided by the complainant by the BBC’s Corporate Investigations Team; this call did not connect.
"Following these attempts to make contact with the complainant, the Corporate Investigations Team were due to return to the matter in the coming weeks. No additional attempts to contact the complainant were made after 6 June, however the case remained open throughout."
Mr Davie, at a press conference during the BBC’s annual report on Tuesday (July 11), also confirmed they first received a call in May. He said: “We did receive a call on 19 May. That was taken by the audiences services team who then made a summary of the call. It did not include an allegation of criminality - but was very serious.”
He added: “Any affair of this nature is serious. Trust is absolutely fundamental to the BBC. It is too early to say how this impacts the BBC in terms of trust. We need to run a fair process. This is very complex and very fast moving. We need to balance the duty of care, get across the legal issues in terms of privacy, and public interest.”
He also said he has not personally spoken to the presenter in question and wouldn’t comment when asked if the presenter has offered to resign.