BBC presenter should only be named after ‘full’ investigation, says justice secretary | Politics News
A Cabinet minister has suggested the BBC presenter who has been suspended for allegedly paying for sexually explicit images of a teenager should only be named once a “full” investigation has taken place.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk agreed there was a “public interest” in the broadcaster being named but said it would not be appropriate to do so “immediately” or until a “full investigation” had taken place.
The BBC has been rocked by allegations that one of its presenters – reportedly a “household name” – paid a 17-year-old thousands of pounds for sexually explicit images.
The presenter, who has since been suspended, reportedly paid £35,000 for the photographs, which the mother has claimed was spent on funding the now 20-year-old’s drug habit.
The Sun reported that the presenter allegedly first requested images from the young person in 2020 when they were 17-years-old and has made a series of payments over the years.
BBC presenter claims latest: BBC to meet police today over scandal
In a statement on Sunday, the BBC said the presenter had been suspended after it had received new allegations of a different nature in addition to their own enquiries.
It has also now been in touch with external authorities, the corporation said.
Mr Chalk described the allegations as “very serious and very concerning”.
Asked whether there was a public interest for the broadcaster to be named, Mr Chalk told Sky News’ Kay Burley: “This is quite a difficult, nuanced legal issue. I’m not going to criticise them at this stage because it will depend on all sorts of things.
“So, for example, if an allegation were made against you and it was of an extremely serious nature, then I don’t think it would necessarily be appropriate to name you immediately until there had been a full investigation.”
“And that is why, if I may say so, it is really important that time is of the essence because there is a public interest in this, I accept that.
“But equally there is a public interest in ensuring that people aren’t defamed as well.”
He added: “So it is a matter of fact and degree. Not every single immediate allegation would need to lead to that person being unmasked, so to speak.
“But the process does need to continue so there is sufficient detail in that investigation to potentially justify that important step.
“Once the allegation is publicly made and that individual is unmasked, the consequences can be very serious, to say nothing of the potential legal knock-on implications.”
‘Presenter made panicked calls’
According to reports, the family first made a complaint to the BBC in May, asking the broadcaster to make the man “stop sending the cash”.
The BBC confirmed in a statement that it had “first became aware of a complaint in May” and that it “takes any allegations seriously” and has “robust internal processes in place to proactively deal with such allegations”.
However, despite the complaint being raised in May, the presenter was still on air a month later, leading the family to grow frustrated.
On Monday, fresh claims emerged in the Sun that the BBC star called the young person to ask “what have you done?”.
He then allegedly asked the person to speak to their mother and urge her to stop the investigation, the paper added.
Why hasn’t the presenter been named publicly?
Stars who have denied it’s them
Mr Chalk said suggestions the BBC allowed the presenter to stay on air despite the allegations were “astonishing”.
“If that is right, then it is astonishing and you would have expected robust action to have been taken much more quickly.
“I don’t know precisely what was said, and that is why there needs to be a full discussion of this in the fullness of time.”
On the internal BBC investigation, Mr Chalk said: “I want them to get on with it.”
Why is the police involved?
The BBC is set to meet the Metropolitan Police today about the allegations.
The Sun reported that the first payments for sexually explicit photos were allegedly made when the teenager was 17.
While the legal age of consent in the UK is 16, it is a crime to make or possess indecent images of anyone under 18.
The Met said last night it “received initial contact” but “no formal referral or allegation has been made”.
“We will require additional information before determining what further action should follow,” the spokesperson said.