'BBC need to look at themselves': Jon Sopel speaks out about 'brutal time' for Huw Edwards after explicit pics scandal

12 July 2023, 20:08 | Updated: 12 July 2023, 22:29

Jon Sopel: My BBC news colleagues ‘need to look at themselves' and their coverage of the story

By Chay Quinn

The News Agent's Jon Sopel has expressed sympathy for Huw Edwards after the BBC anchor was named as the star accused of paying for explicit pictures.

Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, the host of The News Agents podcast reflected on the events of the week just minutes after the BBC News anchor was named as the previously anonymous presenter.

Mr Sopel said: "Look I think it's been a brutal time for him. There was no criminality and if there was no criminality, which we have had confirmed by the Metropolitan Police, what are you left with?"

The Metropolitan Police decided that no information had been passed to them to indicate a criminal offence had been committed earlier today - before Edwards' wife confirmed that he was the subject of the story and was also currently receiving in-patient mental health care over the stress of the coverage.

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Read More: No information to indicate that BBC presenter Huw Edwards committed a criminal offence, Met Police says

Read More: Huw Edwards' wife names him as BBC presenter at centre of allegations over sexually explicit images

Speaking on the mental health revelations in the statement, Mr Sopel added: "Huw has talked in the past about his depression. The Sun initially made some very serious allegations on the Saturday morning: that he might have solicited photos from someone who was underage and had therefore committed a criminal offence."

Jon Sopel (centre left) and Huw Edwards (centre) were colleagues at the BBC for decades.
Global's Jon Sopel (centre left) and Emily Maitlis (left) with Huw Edwards (centre) were colleagues at the BBC for decades. Picture: Getty

Sopel, who noted he worked with Edwards for around 35 years, concluded: "I would also say that I think that some of my colleagues in BBC News need to look at themselves because I think some of what was said, reported, and led on last night again showed that [Huw] had a slightly complicated personal life. It didn't show criminality."

Andrew concurred, adding: "We're all human. We all have our frailties. We both know that Huw Edwards has a very very nice and much-admired wife Vicky Flind and I think five children so there is a lot of family involved in this as well on his side."

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The News Agents. Picture: The News Agents

The former BBC Washington correspondent then turned his focus onto the Sun, which initially published the claims.

Mr Sopel said: "Just looking at the paper on Saturday, you kind of gasped, and I did gasp when I saw the headline. I didn't know who the presenter was but I thought 'bloody hell this is serious' - and then you think 'hang on, if you have got a story of that blockbuster scale, you want to see what is on pages 2,3,4,5,6 and 7. It was nothing.

"I don't know what went on at The Sun. But it just seemed to me that they had a slightly half-cooked story that they decided to go with. They went with the parents of a young man who was in turmoil and from a fractured family relationship. And they didn't even carry the denial from this kid, from this young man. It was nonsense."

The BBC has bee engulfed by the allegations in recent days
The BBC has bee engulfed by the allegations in recent days. Picture: Getty

Talking of the handling of the story by his former employers, Mr Sopel added: "I think the BBC is a complicated beast and it would be lovely to think of it as a streamlined organisation where one bit knows what the other is doing. But the BBC is a series of completely uncoordinated limbs.

"Yesterday lunchtime you have Tim Davie saying 'We are not going to carry out any further investigation until the police have decided whether there is anything to be seen or not.'

"Meanwhile, BBC News is carrying out investigations and produces a report at 4 o'clock in the afternoon saying he had spoke to someone, and aggressive tones, or used swear words.

"And I just thought: 'Hang on, does one know what the other is doing?'. I think the worst thing the BBC could be seen as being is the provisional wing of The Sun newspaper."