BBC suspends presenter over alleged teenager photos scandal

Britain’s BBC suspended a male member of staff on Sunday following an allegation that one of its star presenters paid a teenager thousands of pounds to pose for sexually explicit photos, beginning when they were 17 years old.

The broadcaster said it first became aware of a complaint in May, but new allegations of a different nature were made to it on Thursday, and it had informed “external authorities”. BBC News said it understood that referred to the police.

“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 said in a statement.

“We can also confirm a male member of staff has been suspended.”

The statement said “it is important that these matters are handled fairly and with care”, without giving details on the claims.

The Sun newspaper, which first reported the allegations, cited the young person’s mother as saying the unnamed male presenter had paid the teenager more than 35,000 pounds ($45,000) over three years for the images.

The mother told the newspaper that the teenager had used the cash to fund a crack cocaine habit.

The family complained to the broadcaster on May 19, but the presenter was not immediately taken off air, according to the Sun, which said the family had not requested payment for their story.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer held urgent talks with the broadcaster’s director general, Tim Davie, earlier on Sunday about the allegations, which she described as “deeply concerning”.

“(Davie) has assured me the BBC are investigating swiftly and sensitively,” she said on Twitter.

“Given the nature of the allegations it is important that the BBC is now given the space to conduct its investigation, establish the facts and take appropriate action.”

The BBC, which is funded by a licence fee paid by every TV watching household, said it “takes any allegations seriously” and had “robust internal processes in place to proactively deal with such allegations”.

“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,” it said.

(Reuters)