Met Police ask BBC to pause internal investigation into presenter
The BBC has been asked to pause its investigation into allegations a BBC presenter paid a teenager for explicit images “while the police scope future work” following a meeting with the Metropolitan Police, the corporation has said.
The BBC’s Corporate Investigations Team met the force on Monday following The Sun newspaper’s report that the unnamed presenter paid a young person around £35,000 over three years, from the age of 17, for explicit images.
The presenter has been suspended by the BBC and a review into the protocols and procedures around complaints has been ordered by the director-general Tim Davie.
A statement from the broadcaster said: “As a result of this meeting, the BBC has been asked to pause its investigations into the allegations while the police scope future work.”
It added: “The BBC has processes and protocols for receiving information and managing complaints when they are first made. We always take these matters extremely seriously and seek to manage them with the appropriate duty of care.
“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.
“There will, of course, be lessons to be learned following this exercise.
Davie said he has asked Leigh Tavaziva, the BBC’s Group chief operating officer, to assess whether its protocols and procedures are appropriate in light of this case, and report to the BBC Board on this in due course.
Speaking at a press conference about the BBC’s annual report, Davie said: “Of course there will be lessons to be learned, and how processes could be improved.
“Immediately I have asked that we assess how some complaints are red flagged up the organisation.
“We will take time to properly review the current protocols and procedures to ensure they remain sufficient based on anything we learn from this case.”
The BBC has also released a timeline of events, saying a family member of the young person first complained on May 18, when they went to a BBC building.
The following day they contacted BBC Audience Services and the details of the claims were referred to the BBC’s Corporate Investigations Team, who assessed that the claims did not include an allegation of criminality, but nonetheless merited further investigation.
The BBC said subsequent attempts to contact the complainant were unsuccessful and while 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 June 6.
The case remained open throughout, the BBC said.
The Sun first contacted the BBC on July 6 about the allegations they were due to publish, which was the first time Mr Davie or any executive directors at the BBC were aware of the case.
The claims made by The Sun contained new allegations, that were different from the matters being considered by BBC Corporate Investigations, the corporation said.
The young person at the centre of the controversy has said nothing inappropriate or unlawful happened with the unnamed presenter, although their mother reportedly stands by the claims.
In a letter reported by BBC News At Six, the young person said via a lawyer: “For the avoidance of doubt, nothing inappropriate or unlawful has taken place between our client and the BBC personality and the allegations reported in The Sun newspaper are ‘rubbish’.”
The legal representative also said the young person told The Sun on Friday evening before the newspaper published the story that there was “no truth to it”, the BBC reported.
The lawyer reportedly called the article on the front page “inappropriate”, claiming in the letter that the mother and the young person are estranged.
BBC News said it does not know the identity of the young person and has not spoken to them directly, but that the letter was sent by a multinational law firm.
A spokesman for The Sun said: “We have reported a story about two very concerned parents who made a complaint to the BBC about the behaviour of a presenter and the welfare of their child. Their complaint was not acted upon by the BBC.
“We have seen evidence that supports their concerns. It’s now for the BBC to properly investigate.”
The mother and stepfather of the young person stood by their allegation, and questioned how their child could afford the lawyer, The Sun reported.
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