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The Telegraph
The Telegraph
8 Jul 2023


The BBC has been accused of mishandling an investigation into a high-profile presenter accused of paying a vulnerable teenager thousands of pounds for explicit pictures and videos.

The unidentified presenter is alleged to have sent more than £35,000 to the then teenager, beginning three years ago when they were 17, which they are said to have used to fund a crack cocaine addiction.

Dame Caroline Dinenage, who chairs the the culture, media and sport committee, said she was concerned that the corporation had taken “a very long time” to investigate the allegations, during which time the star had allegedly sent additional payments to the teenager and continued to broadcast on the BBC.

The recipient’s mother said she blamed the BBC presenter for “destroying my child’s life” and “felt sick” when she saw he was still on television after first making a complaint.

Dame Priti Patel, the former home secretary, said the response from the BBC had been “derisory” and called for a “full and transparent investigation”. She added: “The BBC, which is funded by licence fee-payers, has become a faceless and unaccountable organisation.”

On Saturday, senior presenters at the broadcaster publicly denied being the person at the centre of the allegations amid wild and widespread speculation over the identity of the man.

In the hours after the story was first reported by The Sun, Jeremy Vine and Rylan Clark, both Radio 2 presenters, issued statements denying they were involved.

Writing on Twitter, Vine said: “Just to say I’m very much looking forward to hosting my radio show on Monday – whoever the “BBC Presenter” in the news is, I have the same message for you as Rylan did earlier: it certainly ain’t me.”

Dame Caroline said publicly-funded broadcasters had a responsibility to ensure there was a workplace that stopped “gods of broadcasting” from using their “exceptional power and influence” for personal gain.

She added: “Where these issues are reported ... it’s absolutely vital that they have the right systems and processes in place that they can be investigated and dealt with very quickly. We do need to make sure that HR take allegations of this type incredibly seriously.

“The BBC should investigate this with great speed and thoroughness, because clearly this is a matter of great concern.”

Dame Andrea Jenkyns, the MP for Morely and Outwood, said: “The public deserve to know what the BBC did to investigate why a taxpayer-funded presenter was sending thousands of pounds in cash to a 17-year-old teenager.”

Defund the BBC, a campaign group, said the row had shown that the broadcaster was “not able to police itself” and instead chose to “prevaricate and whitewash”.

The BBC was allegedly first made aware of the claims on May 19. It has been reported that a further payment has been made to the person since, and their mother claimed she “begged” the BBC to stop the man sending money.

The corporation did not confirm whether the presenter had now been taken off air as a result of the claims.

The alleged recipient’s mother told The Sun that her child used the large sums of money to help fund a spiralling crack cocaine drug habit and said the now 20-year-old went from a “happy-go-lucky youngster” to a “ghost-like crack addict” in just three years.

“When I see [the presenter] on telly, I feel sick,” she said. “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.”

Her child showed her an online bank statement that had numerous deposits from the presenter, she claimed, adding: “One time, he had sent £5,000 in one lump. The money had been in exchange for sexually explicit photographs of my child.”

A spokesman for the BBC said it treated any allegations “very seriously” and insisted it had processes in place to proactively deal with them.

The spokesman added: “As part of that, if we receive information that requires further investigation or examination, we will take steps to do this. That includes actively attempting to speak to those who have contacted us in order to seek further detail and understanding of the situation.

“If we get no reply to our attempts or receive no further contact that can limit our ability to progress things, but it does not mean our enquiries stop. If, at any point, new information comes to light or is provided – including via newspapers – this will be acted upon appropriately, in line with internal processes.”