BBC staff have expressed concern that the star presenter accused of paying a teen for explicit photographs had been allowed to continue broadcasting while under investigation.
A Beeb staffer told i that rumours of a complaint about the “personal or professional conduct” of a senior broadcaster began to surface within the corporation’s Broadcasting House headquarters at the end of last month.
The BBC last night announced that it had suspended an unnamed male broadcaster over allegations that he had paid a teenager for sexually explicit photographs during an alleged liaison which began when the youngster was 17.
The BBC worker said no details of the complaint had been disclosed to staff but some colleagues were “uncomfortable” when the individual continued to perform presenting duties. The staffer said there had been some “frustration” at what appeared to be the slow pace of any investigation but it was felt the corporation’s internal procedures had to be allowed to take their due course.
The Sun newspaper, which first reported the allegations against the now suspended presenter, said the mother of the alleged victim had been shocked to continue seeing the broadcaster on screen in the month after her initial complaint was made to the BBC on 19 May. The mother said that her child had also allegedly received a further payment of £1,000 via Paypal from the presenter as recently as last month and suggested the pattern of behaviour suggested the BBC had not at that stage spoken to the broadcaster concerned.
Under BBC guidelines, the corporation can move to “immediately suspend” a staff member when allegations of serious misconduct are levelled but it must be done within procedures laid out for investigating complaints. The Sun reported that the BBC’s corporate investigations team, led by a former police detective, is leading its internal inquiry.
Rachel Reeves, the shadow Chancellor, meanwhile raised concern that the suspended presenter had remained in their job while an investigation was under way.
She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “When serious allegations are made like this, I don’t think it’s right that those people stay in those jobs whilst those very serious accusations go on.”
She added: “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.”
The BBC declined to comment on the complaint that it had allowed the now-suspended broadcaster to continue presenting duties after receiving the allegations in May.
Commenting on the allegations, a BBC spokesperson said that any allegations are ”taken seriously” and the corporation has ”robust internal processes in place to proactively deal with such allegations”.
They added: “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.
“It is important that these matters are handled fairly and with care.
“We have been clear that if – at any point – new information comes to light or is provided to us, this will be acted upon appropriately and actively followed up.
“The BBC 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.
“We can also confirm a male member of staff has been suspended.
“We expect to be in a position to provide a further update in the coming days as the process continues. The BBC board will continue to be kept up to date.”