The BBC on Sunday was forced to contact the authorities and suspended a top staffer following a newspaper expose that he had allegedly paid £35,000 ($45,000) to a teenager for sexually explicit photos. BBC has come under fire for not taking action earlier despite receiving a complaint from the teenager’s mother in May this year.
The Sun newspaper, which first broke the story, cited the young person’s mother as saying that an unnamed BBC presenter paid her child more than £35,000 ($45,000) for the images over a three-year period.
It is also claimed that BBC’s star presenter in question appeared on air for a month after the family of the young person — who was said to be 17 when the payments started — complained to the BBC in May.
In a statement on Sunday, the BBC confirmed that it “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,” it added.
The statement said that “a male member of staff has been suspended”.
“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,” the BBC added.
The alleged recipient’s mother said they had used the cash to fund a crack habit. The Sun reported the mother as saying :
“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.”
UK culture minister Lucy Frazer said earlier she had spoken about the “deeply concerning” allegations with BBC Director General Tim Davie, who assured her the BBC is “investigating swiftly and sensitively,” according to an AFP report.
London’s Metropolitan Police released a statement later on Sunday confirming the BBC contacted it over the matter, “but no formal referral or allegation has been made”.
“We will require additional information before determining what further action should follow,” it added.
One scandal to another
After The Sun exposed the scam, some embarrassed BBC presenters have taken to social media to deny that they are the broadcaster in question.
BBC was earlier rocked by a scam when its chairman resigned in April after an inquiry found he failed to disclose a loan to ex-prime minister Boris Johnson, has come under fire over its handling of the claim.
Former home secretary and an MP from the ruling Conservative party, Priti Patel, has said the BBC’s response was “derisory.”
“The BBC, but also other broadcasters, do need to get a grip because we seem to lurch from one scandal to another and more needs to be done,” opposition Labour party lawmaker Rachel Reeves told Sky News on Sunday.