BBC has suspended the presenter accused of paying a teenager more than £35,000 for sexually explicit images after director-general Tim Davie said corporation was investigating ‘swiftly and sensitively’ into the ‘deeply concerning’ claims following urgent talks with government.
The broadcaster confirmed in a pubic statement that it had suspended a male member of staff and been in touch with ‘external authorities’ but did not reveal the identity of the employee.
In a follow-up email sent to BBC staff, Mr Davie reiterated that the BBC is taking the allegations ‘incredibly seriously’.
Later in the internal email, he adds: ‘By law, individuals are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy, which is making this situation more complex. I also want to be very clear that I am wholly condemning the unsubstantiated rumours being made on the internet about some of our presenting talent.
‘We are in contact with the family referenced in the media reports. I want to assure you that we are working rapidly to establish the facts and to ensure that these matters are handled fairly and with care, including by external authorities where appropriate.’
BBC has suspended the presenter accused of paying a teenager more than £35,000 for sexually explicit images, the broadcaster has confirmed (stock photo)
In a follow-up email sent to BBC staff, director-general Tim Davie (pictured) reiterated that the BBC is taking the allegations ‘incredibly seriously’. He added: ‘By law, individuals are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy, which is making this situation more complex’
Mr Davie today held urgent talks with the government over the ‘deeply concerning’ sex pictures scandal surrounding one of its top stars.
Shortly after his phone call with culture secretary Lucy Frazer today, the broadcaster released a statement confirming it had suspended the presenter.
‘The BBC takes any allegations seriously and we have robust internal processes in place to proactively deal with such allegations,’ the statement said.
‘This is a complex and fast moving set of circumstances and the BBC is working as quickly as possible to establish the facts in order to properly inform appropriate next steps.
‘It is important that these matters are handled fairly and with care.
‘We have been clear that if – at any point – new information comes to light or is provided to us, this will be acted upon appropriately and actively followed up.
‘The BBC first became aware of a complaint in May. New allegations were put to us on Thursday of a different nature and in addition to our own enquiries we have also been in touch with external authorities, in line with our protocols.
‘We can also confirm a male member of staff has been suspended.
‘We expect to be in a position to provide a further update in the coming days as the process continues. The BBC Board will continue to be kept up to date.’
Culture secretary Lucy Frazer (pictured) held urgent talks with BBC boss Time Davie today over the allegations that one of its presenters paid a teenager more than £35,000 for sexually explicit images
During his call with the culture secretary, Mr Davie said the corporation was investigating the claims ‘swiftly and sensitively’.
Ms Frazer described the allegations reported by The Sun newspaper as ‘deeply concerning’ and said the broadcaster now needs to be given space to probe the matter and take appropriate action.
Following a phone call with Mr Davie, she tweeted: ‘I have spoken to BBC director-general Tim Davie about the deeply concerning allegations involving one of its presenters.
‘He has assured me the BBC are investigating swiftly and sensitively.’
She added: ‘Given the nature of the allegations it is important that the BBC is now given the space to conduct its investigation, establish the facts and take appropriate action. I will be kept updated.’
Senior officials have told the broadcaster the allegations must be investigated ‘urgently and sensitively’, with the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) kept updated.
A DCMS spokeswoman previously said: ‘These allegations are deeply concerning.
‘As a public service broadcaster in receipt of public funding, senior officials have stressed to the BBC that the allegations must be investigated urgently and sensitively, with the department kept informed.’
The presenter, who has not been named but is described as being well-known, allegedly began paying the teenager when they were 17, and sent them the money which they used to fund an addiction to crack cocaine.
The lurid speculation was sparked by a newspaper report that the youngster’s family had complained about the behaviour of the ‘household name’ seven weeks ago, but had been unhappy with the BBC response.
The presenter had reportedly been taken off air on Friday, pending an investigation, but has now been suspended.
He is said to be known to millions of people and could face a police probe over potential crimes which carry a maximum 14-year prison sentence.
The alleged victim’s mother says that the family complained to the BBC on May 19, asking for the presenter to be told to stop sending their child money.
It is claimed that even after the family complained, the star continued to send money and remained on air – before he allegedly attended an awards ceremony and was even partying with BBC bosses.
The suspension comes after a slew of lawmakers criticised the Corporation’s handling of the allegations and demanded full transparency about the probe.
It is the latest crisis for Mr Davie to respond to after he survived calls to resign over his handling of Gary Lineker being briefly taken off air in March after the football pundit criticised Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s ‘cruel’ asylum policy.
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel called the broadcaster’s treatment of the complaint ‘derisory’ and insisted the BBC ‘must provide the victim and his family a full and transparent investigation’.
2020: The BBC presenter allegedly began requesting sexually explicit photographs from the teenager.
May 19: Alleged victim’s family complained to the BBC, asking for the presenter to be told to stop sending their child money.
June: The accused host allegedly attended a party alongside BBC senior executives.
July 7: The BBC star was said to have been taken off air – but has not been suspended.
The alleged victim’s family details the accusations in a newspaper interview, claiming the presenter paid for the explicit photographs for three years.
The alleged victim’s mother also claimed the teenager used the cash to fund their spiralling drug habit.
July 8: It is revealed the presenter could face a police probe over potential crimes which carry a maximum 14-year prison sentence
Several major BBC stars – including Rylan Clark, Jeremy Vine and Gary Lineker – confirm they are not the man behind the scandal.
July 9: Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer holds ‘urgent talks’ with BBC boss Tim Davie.
BBC suspends the male staff member whom allegations were made against.
Director-general Tim Davie sends an internal email to staff reiterating that the BBC is taking the allegations ‘incredibly seriously’.
She added: ‘The BBC, which is funded by licence fee payers, has become a faceless and unaccountable organisation.’
Fellow Conservative MP Paul Bristow said: ‘What is being suggested is incredibly serious. The BBC must be completely transparent on how it is dealing with this complaint. No ifs, no buts. They need to let the licence fee paying public know what they are doing and what they propose to do.’
Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the reports were ‘deeply concerning’.
She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show: ‘The idea that some presenters act with impunity and can get away with these sort of things, it does call into question the ethics, the investigations, how long these things take,
‘The BBC and other broadcasters do need to get a grip because we seem to lurch from one scandal to another and more needs to be done.’
Ms Reeves added there should be a ‘full investigation’ into the matter.
‘That’s the concerning thing, someone makes a complaint – a very serious complaint – and then they’re put on the TV the next night and they’re still there,’ she said.
‘That’s not good enough, that’s not treating people, victims, with respect and that’s why there needs to be a full investigation.’
Government minister Victoria Atkins, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News: ‘These are very, very serious allegations and the BBC have said they have processes in places.
‘But I think as public attention and concern grows, the BBC is going to have to act very swiftly to deal with these allegations and set out what they are going to investigate them.’
Ms Atkins said she could ‘quite understand the public concern’ about the allegations.
‘It may well be that happens in due course,’ she added.
‘With allegations of this kind, we as a Government have worked very hard over the years to try to help complainants of very serious allegations both in the criminal courts and with the police.
‘And I would expect other institutions that have responsibilities with the public to have similar high standards.’
The alleged victim’s family claims the explicit messages started in 2020 and that the star did not hide his identity and even sent photographs to the teen while he was at work.
He would allegedly request ‘performances’ from the teenager, who told their mother they would then ‘get their bits out’. On one occasion, he sent the teenager a lump sum of £5,000.
The mother told the Sun their child went from a ‘happy-go-lucky youngster to a ghost-like crack addict’ in just three years.
The teenager’s mother said she once heard the BBC star telling them: ‘I told you not to f***ing ring me’.
She said her relationship with her child has always been close, and that they have previously confided when the man has sent them money.
The mother also told the Sun last night she used to ‘love’ watching the presenter, and was left ‘shocked’ to see a photograph of him in his underwear on the sofa of his house while looking at her child’s phone.
‘I immediately recognised him. He was leaning forward getting ready for my child to perform for him. My child told me, ‘I have shown things’ and this was a picture from some kind of video call.’
But now the stricken mother says: ‘Whenever I see him on telly, I feel sick.
She believes nothing was done and said the man continued to send her child cash as he remained on air.
It has also been alleged that the presenter partied with BBC bosses at an awards ceremony after the allegations were made against him.
Insiders claim the host enjoyed a champagne reception and a three-course meal alongside senior executives weeks after the alleged victim’s mother complained to the network.
A fellow party guest told the Mirror that it was ‘astonishing’ that someone facing ‘such serious allegations’ could attend the event, adding: ‘If this man was aware of what was hanging over him, he certainly didn’t show it.’
The source added: ‘The BBC had been made aware in the strongest possible terms of what this person is supposed to have done – and still they were able to go along, with colleagues in tow. It is very odd, to say the least.’
Jeremy Vine (pictured) also distanced himself from the allegations on Saturday
Rylan Clark was one of three high-profile names to deny his involvement on Saturday
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, became the third prominent BBC presenter to distance himself from reports that a top BBC star paid a vulnerable teenager £35,000 for sexual pictures that the youngster used to buy crack cocaine
The BBC has appeared to suggest the family did not respond to them when they tried to pursue an investigation. But one of the country’s top lawyers has questioned why they did not act sooner.
Nazir Afzal, who prosecuted the Rochdale grooming gang, told the Times last night he was ‘surprised that this person was not suspended once [the BBC] became aware of the gravity of the allegation.’
He continued: ‘The police should have been engaged as soon as they worked out whether the complaint was genuine.
‘Where are we now – the middle of July? Six, seven weeks on. They should have advised the police that this is a matter that they should be investigating, and that should have been done weeks ago.
‘There’s no justification for the police not having become involved as early as possible.’
A BBC spokesperson told MailOnline on Friday: ‘We treat any allegations very seriously and we have processes in place to proactively deal with them.
‘As part of that, if we receive information that requires further investigation or examination, we will take steps to do this.
‘That includes actively attempting to speak to those who have contacted us in order to seek further detail and understanding of the situation.
‘If we get no reply to our attempts or receive no further contact that can limit our ability to progress things but it does not mean our enquiries stop.
‘If, at any point, new information comes to light or is provided — including via newspapers — this will be acted upon appropriately, in line with internal processes.’
Meanwhile, several major BBC celebrities have stated publicly they are not the presenter being investigated.
This evening, Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, became the third prominent BBC presenter to say they were not the BBC star facing the serious accusations.
At just after 7pm, the football pundit tweeted: ‘Hate to disappoint the haters but it’s not me.’
Earlier on Saturday, Rylan, who has presented on BBC Radio Two among a string of other work, was the first to declare he was not the host in question.
He wrote: ‘Not sure why my names floating about but re that story in The Sun – that ain’t me babe.
‘I’m currently filming a show in Italy for the BBC, so take my name out ya mouths.’
Vine then also distanced himself from the claims, adding: Just to say I’m very much looking forward to hosting my radio show on Monday — whoever the ‘BBC Presenter’ in the news is, I have the same message for you as Rylan did earlier: it certainly ain’t me.’
Nicky Campbell appeared to suggest he had contacted police about being mentioned in connection with the story.
He tweeted a screenshot which featured the Metropolitan Police logo and the words: ‘Thank you for contacting the Metropolitan Police Service to report your crime.’
In his tweet, he wrote: ‘I think it’s important to take a stand. There’s just too many of these people on social media. Thanks for your support friends.’
The BBC’s culture editor Katie Razzall said the presenter’s continued presence on its content after a serious allegation was made ‘leads to questions about what steps the Corporation took after the complaint.’
She said many questions were still unanswered, including how the investigation was undertaken and if it was appropriate for the unnamed presenter to remain on air following the allegation.
BBC News entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba yesterday said that the unnamed presenter will not appear on air in the near future.
He told the BBC News channel: ‘We understand that the presenter is currently not scheduled to be on air in the near future.’