Met Police asks BBC to pause presenter investigation as they 'continue assessment'

11 July 2023, 12:22 | Updated: 11 July 2023, 15:01

Tim Davie says he has not spoken to the unnamed presenter
Tim Davie says he has not spoken to the unnamed presenter. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Scotland Yard has asked the BBC to halt its internal investigation into allegations a presenter paid a young person for explicit photos.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement today: "We have asked the BBC to pause its own investigation while we continue our assessment to establish whether there is evidence of a criminal offence being committed.

"The assessment is being led by detectives from the Met's Specialist Crime Command and follows a virtual meeting with representatives from the BBC on the morning of Monday, 10 July.

"There remains no police investigation at this time."

A timeline provided by the BBC suggests the complainant - a family member of the alleged victim - visited the BBC building to complain about the unnamed presenter on May 18.

On May 19, the complainant then contacted BBC Audience Services, which then forwarded the complaint onto their Corporate Investigations Team.

On June 6, the complainant was contacted, the BBC said, but the call 'did not connect'.

Tim Davie, Director-General of the BBC
Tim Davie, Director-General of the BBC. Picture: Alamy

There were no more attempts to contact the complainant after June 6, though the corporation says the case "remained open throughout".

The BBC's Director General Tim Davie said: "We did receive a call on 19 May. That was taken by the audiences services team who then make a summary of the call.

"It did not include an allegation of criminality - but was very serious."

Meanwhile, the corporation also said it did not put any allegations to the unnamed presenter for seven weeks.

The presenter has now been suspended.

Asked why he has not spoken to the presenter, Mr Davie said: "I think it is critical they are spoken to a very senior manager."

He added that he feels he is playing the "right role" by overseeing the situation as director general.

"There may be lessons from this," he adds. "The case has always been kept open."

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The BBC has also published a timeline on when it spoke to the unnamed presenter about the allegations.

On July 6, The Sun - which broke the original story about the sexual picture allegations - contacted the BBC about the claims.

This was the first time Mr Davie became aware of the case, the corporation says.

On the same day, the BBC launched an "incident management group", which involved senior BBC executives alongside Mr Davie.

A senior manager then approached the unnamed presenter - seven weeks after the BBC was first contacted (May 19).

On July 7, the BBC's Corporate Investigations team contacted the complainant, who had been in touch with the BBC’s investigators

The BBC contacted the police on July 7. They were sent "some materials related to the complaint" on July 8 and 9.

On the same day, the unnamed presenter was suspended.

Regarding the seven-week delay in speaking to the presenter, Mr Davie said: "If you've got an allegation coming into a corporate investigations team you need to balance the concerns of duty of care and privacy."

He added: "You don't take that complaint directly to the presenter unless it has been verified.

"It is right to validate that and to have the specialist team talk to the individual before taking it forward."

On Monday, July 10, BBC bosses met with the Met Police virtually.

Read More: 'What have you done?': BBC presenter accused of paying teen for sexual pictures 'called them twice to drop complaint'

It comes amid concerns that the unnamed presenter could be named by MPs in Parliament.

Parliamentary privilege is a right held by MPs that allows them to speak freely in the House of Commons without being subject to laws around slander.

Asked by LBC whether he is concerned about the presenter being named in Parliament, or speculated about on social media, Mr Davie said: "This is a complex and fast moving situation, we will be prepared to navigate any possible outcome. This is a complex and difficult situation which is constantly evolving."

Metropolitan Police Service new headquarters on Victoria Embankment
Metropolitan Police Service new headquarters on Victoria Embankment. Picture: Alamy

Meanwhile, the BBC has since confirmed that it has paused its own internal investigation as Metropolitan Police enquiries continue.

On Monday, the police force said they were looking into allegations, but said no formal investigation had begun.

A spokesperson for the BBC said: "We know that questions have been asked about how the complaint was initially managed, so today we have published an update that sets out key dates and some additional information that we are currently able to share"

"Events of recent days have shown how complex and challenging these kinds of cases can be and how vital it is that they are handled with the utmost diligence and care," they add.