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BBC New Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London. Alamy Stock Photo
UK

Young person at centre of BBC presenter controversy says 'allegations in The Sun are rubbish'

The BBC confirmed at the weekend that a male member of staff had been suspended after the allegations were published.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 10th 2023, 10:45 PM

THE TEENAGER AT the centre of the BBC controversy said nothing inappropriate or unlawful happened with the unnamed presenter and that the allegations are “rubbish”, their lawyer said in a letter to the broadcaster.

The BBC confirmed at the weekend that the member of staff had been suspended after allegations were published in The Sun newspaper.

The paper had reported that he had been accused of paying a teenager more than £35,000 (around €40,900) in exchange for sexual images. The teenager was said to be 17 when the payments began.

The mother of the teenager said she had gone to The Sun newspaper after originally making a complaint to the BBC in May, which she said was not followed up.

A BBC spokesperson confirmed the broadcaster had become aware of the complaint in May. “New allegations were put to us [last] Thursday of a different nature,” the spokesperson said.

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’.”

As well as being in touch with the police, the BBC is carrying out its own inquiries and talking to the young person’s family.

Police are carrying out further inquiries to establish whether any crime has been committed after BBC representatives met with detectives this morning.

The force said they are assessing the information discussed at the meeting but have not yet launched an investigation following allegations the presenter paid a teenager tens of thousands of pounds for sexually explicit images.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command met with representatives from the BBC on the morning of July 10. The meeting took place virtually.

“They are assessing the information discussed at the meeting and further enquiries are taking place to establish whether there is evidence of a criminal offence being committed.

“There is no investigation at this time.”

In a statement this afternoon, a spokesperson for The Sun has 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.

The newspaper reported that the mother said: “It is sad but we stand by our account and we hope they get the help they need.

“We did this to help – and the presenter has got into their head. How did they afford a lawyer?”

The Sun said the stepfather spoke to the BBC for an hour and the newspaper has seen emails sent to the corporation detailing alleged bank statements made by the presenter.

According to the newspaper, the stepfather said: “I told the BBC I had gone to the police in desperation but they couldn’t do anything as they said it wasn’t illegal. They knew all of this.”

BBC News also reported that the young person is estranged from their mother, according to their lawyer.

BBC director-general Tim Davie is due to face the media tomorrow for a scheduled briefing following the release of the corporation’s annual report.

In a note to staff on Sunday, he said: “The BBC became aware of a complaint in May; the BBC investigations team have been looking into this since it was raised and have been actively following up.

“New allegations, of a different nature, were put to us on Thursday, and, in addition to our own inquiries, we have also been in touch with external authorities, in line with our protocols.

“I can also confirm that we have suspended a member of staff.”

He added: “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.”

Gary Lineker, Rylan Clark, Jeremy Vine and Nicky Campbell are among the BBC stars to have publicly stated that they are not the presenter in question.

Campbell suggested he had contacted police about being falsely mentioned online 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.”

“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,” he wrote.

With reporting from Jane Moore

Author
Press Association