By Democrat reporters
The BBC presenter accused of paying a person for explicit images was not informed of the allegations against him by the Corporation until seven weeks after they had been made. They were first contacted the day before The Sun published its claims, the BBC said this afternoon. The corporation has now paused its own investigations into the allegations as police continue their inquiries.
BBC director-general Tim Davie said the first complaint they received was “very serious”, but did not include allegations of criminal behaviour
It was also revealed the presenter at the centre of the allegations was not informed of them for seven weeks after the claims first came to light.
BBC director-general Tim Davie faced media questions on Tuesday (11 July) on the Sun newspaper’s report that a presenter has allegedly paid a teenager for sexually explicit photos. The unnamed BBC star was accused of paying a teenager more than £35,000 in exchange for sexual images – with the young person’s parents claiming they had tried to complain to the BBC in the past.
The young person at the centre of the controversy has said “nothing inappropriate or unlawful” took place between them and the presenter. A lawyer representing the young person said the claim, which was made by their parents, was “rubbish”.
Mr Davie described the first complaint they received – on 19 May – as “very serious”, but said it had not included allegations of criminal behaviour. “The process is that we did receive a call… on May 19 that was taken by Audience Services Team, who then make a summary of the call and put it to our highly experienced Corporate Investigations team.”
“On the basis of the information they had at that point, it did not include an allegation of criminality, but none the less was very serious and they wanted to follow it up,” he told reporters.
The new allegations made in The Sun on 6 July were different to the matters considered by BBC Corporate Investigations, he said, “and those new allegations clearly related to potential criminal activity, criminality, that in a nutshell is the difference”.
Mr Davie had not personally spoken to the unnamed presenter, the BBC reported, and did not comment when asked if they had offered to resign.
The Sun newspaper – which first published the allegations – also asked Davie if the corporation knew who paid for the young person’s lawyer, but the director-general said: “that’s not something corporately for the BBC”, the BBC reports.
At the press stand-up, the BBC released a timeline of its version of events to reporters. It revealed than on 18 May, a family member of the young person at the centre of the allegations visited a BBC building, where they tried to make a complaint. The following day, they made a complaint over the phone.
This complaint was passed on to BBC’s Corporate Investigations Team, who assessed that while it did not include an allegation of criminality – it merited further investigation. However, the investigation team alleged they tried to email and call the complainant on 19 May and 6 June respectively for more information, but never heard back.
On 6 July, the Sun newspaper informed the BBC via its press office of the allegations concerning the BBC presenter. This was the first time that the director-general or any executive directors at the BBC were aware of the case, the timeline said.
While the came from the same person as the complaint to the BBC, the claims made by The Sun contained new allegations, the broadcaster said. The BBC formed an incident management group to lead the response to this case, involving senior BBC executives. A senior manager then spoke to the presenter for the first time, to make him aware of the claims.
It was agreed that the presenter would not be on air while this matter was being considered. On 7 July, the BBC’s Corporate Investigations team contacted the complainant again, who this time got in touch with the BBC’s investigators.
The BBC’s Serious Case Management Framework (SCMF) was initiated, and the BBC also made contact with the police. Over the coming days the complaint sent material through to the BBC related to their complaint, until Monday (10 July), when the Met Police asked BBC to pause its internal investigation into the allegations. The force previously said it was “assessing information” following a meeting with the BBC.
In a letter sent on Monday (10 July) to the BBC, the lawyer said the young person had sent a message to the paper on Friday (7 July) via WhatsApp saying the statement made by their mother was “totally wrong and there was no truth to it”.
Nonetheless, the Sun newspaper proceeded to publish the “inappropriate article”, the letter said.
In response, a spokesperson for the Sun told the BBC the paper had 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”.
It added that it had seen evidence to back the mother’s claims.
The lawyer has said press reporting had amounted to an invasion of privacy and criticised both the Sun and the BBC for not contacting their client.
The lawyer wrote: “Nobody from the Sun newspaper appears to have made any attempt to contact our client prior to the publication of the allegations on Friday 6 July”.