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File photo of Huw Edwards. Alamy Stock Photo
bbc scandal

Broadcaster Huw Edwards named by his wife as BBC presenter at centre of scandal

Vicky Flind said Edwards was “suffering from serious mental health issues” and is now “receiving in-patient hospital care”.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 12th 2023, 10:05 PM

THE WIFE OF newsreader Huw Edwards has named him as the BBC presenter facing allegations over payments for sexually explicit images, in a statement issued on his behalf.

Vicky Flind said in a statement that her husband was “suffering from serious mental health issues” and is now “receiving in-patient hospital care where he will stay for the foreseeable future” as she asked for privacy for her family.

The statement comes after days of intense speculation as to the identity of the BBC presenter at the centre of the allegations.

The Sun newspaper had reported that the presenter 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.

In a letter to the BBC on Monday, a lawyer for the teenager at the centre of the controversy said that nothing inappropriate or unlawful happened with the presenter and that the allegations were “rubbish”.

Edwards was suspended by the BBC after the allegations were published. Fresh allegations were made against the presenter yesterday. 

In a statement to the PA news agency, Flind said: “In light of the recent reporting regarding the ‘BBC Presenter’ I am making this statement on behalf of my husband Huw Edwards, after what have been five extremely difficult days for our family. I am doing this primarily out of concern for his mental well-being and to protect our children.

“Huw is suffering from serious mental health issues. As is well documented, he has been treated for severe depression in recent years.

“The events of the last few days have greatly worsened matters, he has suffered another serious episode and is now receiving in-patient hospital care where he’ll stay for the foreseeable future.”

Flind said once Edwards, who has worked for the BBC for four decades, was well enough he “intends to respond to the stories that have been published”.

She added: “To be clear Huw was first told that there were allegations being made against him last Thursday.

“In the circumstances and given Huw’s condition I would like to ask that the privacy of my family and everyone else caught up in these upsetting events is respected.

“I know that Huw is deeply sorry that so many colleagues have been impacted by the recent media speculation. We hope this statement will bring that to an end.”

‘No criminal offence committed’

Sources have made it clear to the PA news agency that Edwards has not resigned.

The Welsh journalist and broadcaster has previously spoken about his mental health, telling BBC Radio Cymru in 2019 that he was “mentally in the wrong place” when he was physically “unhealthy”.

He also revealed in a documentary in 2021 he had bouts of depression which have left him “bedridden” since 2002.

Flind’s statement comes as the Metropolitan Police said no criminal offence had been committed by the presenter.

The force said: “Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command have now concluded their assessment and have determined there is no information to indicate that a criminal offence has been committed.

“In reaching this decision, they have spoken to a number of parties including the BBC and the alleged complainant and the alleged complainant’s family, both via another police force. There is no further police action. As such, the Met has advised the BBC it can continue with its internal investigation.”

The statement added: “We are aware of media reporting of further allegations against the same individual. No specific details or information about these allegations have been passed to us and therefore there is no police action at this time.”

A spokesperson for the BBC said the corporation is “grateful” to the Met Police for “completing this work at speed”. 

“The police had previously asked us to pause our fact finding investigations and we will now move forward with that work, ensuring due process and a thorough assessment of the facts, whilst continuing to be mindful of our duty of care to all involved.”

Allegations ‘always very serious’

The Sun has said it has no plans to publish further allegations about Edwards and will co-operate with the BBC’s internal investigation process.

“The allegations published by The Sun were always very serious. Further serious allegations have emerged in the past few days,” a spokesperson for the newspaper said.

“It is right that the BBC’s Corporate Investigations Team continues to investigate these thoroughly and deals with them in the way that they think is appropriate. The Sun will cooperate with the BBC’s internal investigation process.”

The spokesperson also said the newspaper will provide the BBC with a “confidential and redacted dossier containing serious and wide-ranging allegations” which it has received, including some “from BBC personnel”.

“The Sun has no plans to publish further allegations. We must also re-emphasise that The Sun at no point in our original story alleged criminality and also took the decision neither to name Mr Edwards nor the young person involved in the allegations.

“Suggestions about possible criminality were first made at a later date by other media outlets, including the BBC. From the outset, we have reported a story about two very concerned and frustrated parents who made a complaint to the BBC about the behaviour of a presenter and payments from him that fuelled the drug habit of a young person.

“We reported that the parents had already been to the police who said that they couldn’t help. The parents then made a complaint to the BBC which was not acted upon.

“It is now for the BBC to properly investigate.”

Spokespersons for British Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have refused to comment, saying it was a matter for the BBC.

Privacy concerns

Legal experts had weighed in on why concerns of defamation and privacy meant that Edwards could not be named before now.

Today, media lawyer Paul Gilbert told Nicky Campbell’s 5 Live Breakfast show that privacy law had been “beefed up” over the years as the courts are concerned about the “adverse impact on the person”.

“This is an issue for an employer into alleged behaviour of its employee, a matter that is being investigated,” he added.

“There is no reason why the identity of this person should be revealed.”

Under article eight of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), everyone has the right to privacy including in their family life, their home and their correspondence.

Mark Stephens, media law expert and partner at Howard Kennedy, cited Cliff Richard winning a privacy case against the BBC over its coverage of a 2014 South Yorkshire Police raid on his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, after he was falsely accused of historical sex offences.

He added: “That is why the Sun and no other newspaper has identified the presenter, and part of that was to avoid this social media frenzy with names being bandied about.”

Media law consultant Charlie Moloney said another aspect publishers would be considering when deciding whether to identify the presenter was defamation.

He said: “Clearly, this is the kind of allegation that would lower him in the eyes of right-thinking members of society and if you identify him, and you publish that, and he proves that that causes serious harm to his reputation – which I’m sure that we probably all agree that it would – then he could sue you for defamation.

“The only real defences here, firstly would be that it’s true, but the publisher who named him would have to prove that it’s true.

“They would have the burden of proof, which is not an easy thing to do… but of course, maybe they do have some evidence we don’t know about, but even pictures and things like that don’t necessarily prove everything.

“The other thing they could argue it’s in the public interest to report the allegations, but they would have to show that they’ve taken every possible step to verify everything and show that they reasonably believed what they were doing is in the public interest.”

Media regulation

The Defamation Act 2013 explanatory notes state public interest has not been defined in the act but the concept has been “well-established in the English common law”.

Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) has an Editors’ Code of Practice which sets out rules for newspapers and magazines that have signed up to it.

These includes clause two, privacy, which the code says means a respect for everyone’s private and family life, home, physical and mental health, and correspondence including digital communications.

However Ipso says the public interest is an “exception” to privacy.

Public interest for the UK press regulator includes detecting or exposing serious impropriety, disclosing a miscarriage of justice and raising or contributing to a matter of public debate.

British media watchdog Ofcom, which regulates broadcasters, also has a broadcasting code.

This states programmes should avoid “unwarranted infringement of privacy” and “avoid unjust or unfair treatment of individuals or organisations”.

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Press Association