BBC presenter scandal: All the allegations made against TV star so far

The unnamed BBC presenter has been suspended as pressure mounts on the broadcaster

Maroosha Muzaffar,Holly Evans,Tara Cobham
Wednesday 12 July 2023 14:26 BST
Speculating on the BBC presenter scandal could cost you thousands, lawyer says

A BBC presenter accused of paying for sexually explicit photos now faces four allegations against him.

A 23-year-old has claimed the unnamed presenter broke lockdown rules to meet them during the pandemic in February 2021, according to The Sun.

Separately, a 17-year-old has alleged they were following the star on Instagram when he messaged them, using love hearts and kisses, reported The Sun on Tuesday.

Follow The Independent’s live coverage for the latest updates

In a different set of allegations, BBC News reported on Tuesday that a person in their early 20s has claimed they were sent threatening messages by the unnamed man.

It comes after The Sun alleged a young person was paid around £35,000 for sexually explicit images by the presenter, who has been suspended by the BBC.

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What are the allegations?

In the first allegations that were made, the presenter was accused of paying a 17 year-old around £35,000 for sexually explicit images. The BBC star allegedly appeared in his underwear in a video call.

The family of the young person, who is now 20 years-old, has claimed the series of payments fuelled their crack cocaine addiction.

On Sunday, the Sun published an update that claimed that the male presenter called the young person twice after the allegations became public. He reportedly told them in panic “what have you done” and demanded that their mother stop the investigation.

On Tuesday, BBC News reported a person in their early 20s – who the broadcaster said is not connected to the person in the first report by The Sun – allegedly received threatening messages from the presenter, after they met on a dating app.

The presenter then allegedly sent a number of “threatening messages”, which the BBC says it has seen and confirmed came from a phone number belonging to the unnamed man, and asked the young person not to tell anyone.

In another set of allegations, a 17-year-old claimed they were following the star on Instagram when he messaged them, using love hearts and kisses, reported The Sun on Tuesday.

Separately, a 23-year-old person has claimed the BBC presenter broke lockdown rules to meet them during the pandemic in February 2021, according to The Sun on Wednesday.

The Sun’s new report claims messages seen by the paper suggest the presenter travelled from London to a different county to meet the 23-year-old at their flat in February 2021, when strict coronavirus lockdown rules were in place including a stay at home order and mixing only between household bubbles.

The young person, who claims to have met the presenter on a dating website, said the man also gave them more than £600 in three payments, which the newspaper said messages also suggest.

Why hasn’t the presenter been named?

Since the news broke, questions have been asked why the name of the BBC star has not been published.

The male presenter has not been named by the Sun or any other outlets who know their identity. There is no court injunction banning the disclosure of the name of the presenter, it is believed.

The media is not publicly releasing the name through fear of defamation and breaching his privacy, media law experts have explained.

Mark Stephens, media law expert and partner at Howard Kennedy, said the law was changed after Sir Cliff Richard won a privacy case against the BBC over its coverage of a South Yorkshire Police raid on his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014.

Mr Stephens said there is a second layer of privacy, which is the “contractual arrangement” between the BBC and its members of staff.

“If there are allegations of inappropriate behaviour, or any other kind of breach of employment practice, they should be investigated confidentially,” he said.

“That’s doesn’t matter whether you’re a celebrity or in the local office or on the building site, the same law applies.”

The well-known presenter has been suspended following the allegations (PA Wire)

What is the BBC saying?

On Tuesday, addressing the first set of claims, the BBC said a family member contacted the corporation in May and the BBC’s Corporate Investigations Team assessed that the claims did not include an allegation of criminality but nonetheless merited further investigation.

Director-general Tim Davie announced he has ordered a review to “assess how some complaints are red flagged up the organisation”.

He told reporters he was first informed of the allegations when The Sun said it would be publishing its front page story.

The corporation has also been asked to pause its internal investigation into the allegations “while the police scope future work” following a meeting with the Metropolitan Police.

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.”

In an email to staff, addressing the first set of claims, Mr Davie said such allegations were taken “incredibly seriously”.

Tim Davie, Director General of the BBC, held emergency talks on Sunday with the Culture Secretary (PA Archive)

What have the accusers said?

The family of the teenager at the centre of the first set of allegations were reportedly upset with the wording of the BBC’s statement on the star presenter’s suspension, according to the Sun.

On Saturday night, the family allegedly handed a dossier of evidence to BBC’s lead investigator, former detective Jeff Brown.

The mother of the teenager told the paper she was frustrated the presenter was initially still on the air despite making their complaint to the BBC in May.

She said the young person had gone from a “happy-go-lucky youngster to a ghost-like crack addict” in just three years.

The mother reportedly begged the BBC to make the presenter “stop sending the cash”.

She told the Sun: “When I see him on telly, I feel sick. I blame this BBC man for destroying my child’s life.

“Taking my child’s innocence and handing over the money for crack cocaine that could kill my child.”

The young person showed their mother online bank statements. “There were huge sums, hundreds, or thousands of pounds at a time,” the mother said.

“One time he had sent £5,000 in one lump. The money had been in exchange for sexually explicit photographs of my child.”

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said suggestions BBC allowed presenter to stay on air were ‘astonishing’ (PA Wire)

What are politicians saying?

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the initial allegations as “shocking” and “concerning” on the plane to the Nato summit in Lithuania on Tuesday.

But government minister Victoria Atkins on Wednesday told Sky News MPs should be "very careful" about using parliamentary privilege to identify the presenter, saying they had to remember the "huge responsibility" they have.

Earlier culture secretary Lucy Frazer said the BBC had reassured her the broadcaster was “investigating swiftly and sensitively”.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told the corporation to “get its house in order”.

Former home secretary Priti Patel said: “The allegations, carried by the Sun, are absolutely horrendous. The BBC owes an explanation to the country who funded it and placed their trust in it.”

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said the BBC had reassured her the broadcaster was “investigating swiftly and sensitively” (PA Wire)

What are other BBC stars saying?

Jeremy Vine has urged the unnamed figure to “come forward publicly” as speculation about their identity deepens.

Several star faces at the BBC tweeted and tried to distance themselves from the male presenter facing damning allegations. A witchhunt on social media has also ensued due to the anonymity of the star male presenter.

TV presenter Rylan Clark said: “Not sure why my names floating about but re that story in the Sun - that ain’t me babe.”

What next?

The BBC presenter could face jail if he is found guilty of any potential charges over the alleged explicit pictures.

The allegations have caused the corporation damage to its reputation and pressure is mounting on the BBC as it deals with the ongoing crisis.

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