A sense of panic swept through this weekend among many of the BBC’s stars. the tabloid newspaper the sun had revealed on Friday that a public body presenter had paid a young man up to 40,000 euros over three years in exchange for photos of him with sexual content. When the exchange began, the alleged victim was 17 and still a minor. The mother, who filed a complaint on May 19 and saw a month later how the alleged attacker was still in front of the cameras, assures that her son spent the money received on crack (rock cocaine, which is smoked).
The BBC did not act forcefully until Thursday, when it received new allegations against the presenter “of a different nature”, its chief executive, Tim Davie, explained in an internal email to all employees. The suspect was suspended and removed from the screen. But as it all happened with a weekend in between, many well-known faces and voices on public broadcasts were quick to publicly deny they were the subject of the investigation: Rylan Clark, Jeremy Vine, Jon Kay, Nicky Campbell, and even Gary Lineker, the former footballer and sports entertainment star, he took to social networks to stop the initiation of the harassment they were enduring.
The management of the public body met on Monday with the London Metropolitan Police to report on an investigation that has once again put the BBC in the spotlight. However, at the end of a meeting that took place virtually, Scotland Yard assured that “no investigation will be opened for the moment”. The officers in charge will first evaluate the information received, police authorities say.
Pressure from public opinion is growing to make the name of the presenter known, but the story still generates sufficient legal and factual doubts for the institution to want to maintain a prudent attitude. “This is a complex and evolving set of circumstances and we are working as quickly as possible to establish the facts and take informed next steps. It is very important that we address these matters fairly and carefully,” the company said in a public statement.
“We don’t know all the figures yet, we’re treading speculative ground,” Home Secretary Suella Braverman told ITV. “But in the case of serious allegations like these, it’s clear that a swift response is absolutely essential to safeguard both the goals of obtaining justice and maintaining a fair picture,” Braverman added.
The UK government has suggested that the BBC should explain its slow response. It was about six weeks before the matter reached Davie’s office. “When the time comes, an investigation into the way these allegations have been handled may need to be conducted,” said Justice Minister Alex Chalk.
The sun, Like any other tabloid newspaper, it has exploited its exclusivity over the last 72 hours, but the way it doses the information, and a certain ambiguity in the story, serve to understand that the BBC and the Government have preferred, for the moment, to be cautious. The newspaper reported on Monday that the presenter made two “panic calls” to the young man shortly after the news broke. “What did you do?” he asked his alleged victim, and insisted that he stop his mother, who was the one who was talking to the newspaper.
“We just wanted the BBC to force him to stop what he was doing,” said the woman, who on Saturday handed over a report with all the details to the public body’s investigators. “I went through a hell that has lasted for three years. The impact of all of this has been terrifying. My son, who was an outstanding student, had a radical change in behavior. Because, I, he was that man who supplied my son with crack. I wouldn’t have had access to that money if it weren’t for him,” the mother said.
Accustomed to the constant scrutiny of other media and the Conservative Party’s sometimes clearly hostile attitude towards it, the BBC has gone through several crises in recent years. However, the idea of a new sex scandal with underage victims has brought back to the memory of many the darkest stain in the history of the multinational: the case of Jimmy Savile. Years after the eccentric musical show host died Maximum pops, the British discovered all the sexual abuses he committed during his career, taking advantage of his popularity and proximity to power. In 2013, a study by the London Metropolitan Police and the NSPCC children’s advocacy institute looked at nearly 500 rape and molestation complaints lodged in just a few months by 13 police departments across the country and concluded that the complainant had committed a minimum of 214 crimes against sexual freedom, of which more than 70 women and girls had been directly victims, one of them as young as eight years old.
In late April, then BBC chairman Richard Sharp finally resigned, after dealing with months of discontent and rebellion that had spread among public service workers and numerous Conservative and Labor MPs. An independent report accused Sharp of helping former Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had appointed him to the post, secure a personal loan of more than €900,000 in 2020 that would have helped him out of his financial woes.
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