BBC 5 Live sports presenter George Riley 'suspended' amid allegations of sexual harassment

A group of women presenters have reportedly formed a private group that has discussed claims of misconduct at the organisation

Molly Fleming
Sunday 29 October 2017 12:26
Riley has been a presenter of ‘5 live Breakfast’ since 2011
Riley has been a presenter of ‘5 live Breakfast’ since 2011

Radio 5 Live presenter George Riley has been suspended by the BBC following claims of sexual harassment, according to reports.

Riley was absent from the coverage of the Wales match against Papua New Guinea yesterday despite covering previous Rugby League World Cup events for the station.

The sports presenter has allegedly been accused of groping five female colleagues, sources told The Sunday Times. He has been a presenter of 5 live Breakfast since 2011.

The allegations came to light as it emerged the BBC’s most senior female presenters have formed a group to “discuss issues” amid claims of sexual harassment at the organisation.

Presenter Mishal Husain and TV broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire are reportedly among the women behind the group which has provided a safe space for colleagues to share and discuss sexual harassment at the BBC.

Riley and another unnamed man are reported to have formed the subject of some of the discussions.

The private group “is formed from some of the BBC’s most powerful female talent and editors... [and] it will not stand for sexual harassment of women at the corporation”, a source told the Sunday paper.

They added: “Complaints about these two men may just be the tip of the iceberg at the BBC.”

It was originally created in July as a response to the issue of gender pay discrepancy at the corporation but has since evolved into a discussion about inappropriate sexual conduct.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal is believed to have sparked a dialogue between the BBC’s top editors and presenters about sexual misconduct within the workplace.

The BBC’s Washington Correspondent, Rajini Vaidyanathan, is reportedly a member of the group and wrote about her experience of sexual harassment in the wake of the controversy.

In 2004, an older colleague told her “I’m unbelievably sexually attracted to you” while they were covering the Republican Convention in New York.

Today programme presenter Husain has responded on Twitter, saying The Sunday Times article was “an inaccurate portrayal of conversations women at the BBC have been having”.

She went on to add that the group “discusses a wide range of issues, offering support and advice where necessary, It is wrong to portray it as being focused on sexual harassment or targeting individuals”.

It is understood that one of the alleged victims complained about Riley as part of the corporation’s Respect at Work Review in 2013.

The independent review was “set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal to look at current BBC policies and processes relating to sexual harassment”.

Savile was found to have wantonly sexually abused women and children during his 40-year career without ever being brought to book.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We can’t comment on individuals but treat any allegations seriously and have processes in place for investigating them.”

The BBC have also reported the story on their own news channel but did not comment further.

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