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The BBC suspends presenter over claims he paid a teenager for explicit photos

Published July 9, 2023 11:49 a.m. ET

FILE – A view of the main entrance to the publicly funded BBC headquarters in London, Wednesday, July 19, 2017. Senior British politicians on Sunday, July 9, 2023 called out called the BBC to quickly investigate a claim that a top presenter was paying a teenager for clear pictures. The publicly funded national broadcaster is under pressure after The Sun reported allegations that the male presenter gave a young man £35,000 ($45,000) starting in 2020 when he This is 17 years old. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Profile)

LONDON (AP) – The BBC on Sunday said it had suspended a top presenter who allegedly paid a teenager to take sexually explicit pictures.

As senior British politicians urged a prompt investigation, the broadcaster said it was working to establish the truth about “a complex and fast-moving set of circumstances”.

The UK’s publicly funded national broadcaster is struggling to cope with a worsening crisis after The Sun reported allegations that the male presenter had given a young man £35,000. England ($45,000) starting in 2020 when this young man is 17 years old.

Neither the star nor the youth have been identified. Amid speculation on social media about the presenter’s identity, some of the BBC’s most popular stars have spoken out saying it’s not them.

Although the age for sex in the UK is 16, it is a crime to create or possess indecent images of anyone under the age of 18.

The Sun said the young man’s mother complained to the BBC in May but the presenter continued to broadcast.

The BBC said in a statement on Sunday that it was “first aware of a complaint in May,” but that “new allegations made to us on Thursday were of a different nature.”

“The BBC takes all allegations seriously and we have robust internal processes in place to proactively address them,” the broadcaster said. It said the group had also contacted “external authorities”, but did not specify whether it was the police. .

“This is a complex and rapidly evolving set of circumstances and the BBC is working as quickly as possible to verify the facts in order to accurately inform the appropriate next steps,” the BBC said.

“We can also confirm a male employee has been suspended.”

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer held crisis talks with the broadcaster’s general manager over what she called the “deeply concerning” allegations. She said Director General Tim Davie had assured her that the BBC was “quickly and responsively investigating”.

“Given the nature of the allegations, it is important that the BBC is now given the space to conduct an investigation, verify the facts and take appropriate action. I will be updated,” she wrote on social media.

Rachel Reeves, economic spokeswoman for the opposition Labor Party, said the BBC needed to “speed up their process” and “get their house in order”.

The UK’s commercial broadcaster ITV recently faced its own scandal after Phillip Schofield, the longtime host of the channel’s popular morning show, quit in May. , admitted that he had lied about an affair with a coworker much younger than him.

ITV executives have been summoned before Congress to answer questions about whether the broadcaster has a “toxic” work culture and covers up star misconduct. .

The BBC faces more scrutiny than other broadcasters because it is funded by taxpayers and is committed to fair coverage. It was engulfed in a storm of free speech and political bias in March when its top sports presenter, former England footballer Gary Lineker, criticized the government’s immigration policies. government on social networks.

Lineker was suspended — and later reinstated after other sports presenters, analysts and Premier League players united in boycotting BBC broadcasts.


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