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Pressure mounts on BBC as it deals with presenter explicit photo claims

The corporation has been in touch with the police alongside conducting its own inquiries and talking to the young person’s family.

Pressure is mounting on the BBC as it deals with allegations that an unnamed presenter paid a teenager tens of thousands of pounds for sexually explicit images.

The corporation has been in touch with the police and confirmed a male member of staff has been suspended, while The Sun reported the presenter at the centre of the allegations made “panicked” calls to the young person last week.

The newspaper said the presenter allegedly asked “what have you done?”, adding that it is claimed he asked them to ring their mother to get her to “stop the investigation”.

The BBC has said it had been investigating a complaint since May when it was first made aware, and that new allegations of a “different nature” were brought to it on Thursday.

As well as being in touch with the police, the corporation is conducting its own inquiries and talking to the young person’s family.

In a statement on Sunday evening, the Metropolitan Police said: “The Met has received initial contact from the BBC in relation to this matter, but no formal referral or allegation has been made.

“We will require additional information before determining what further action should follow.”

BBC director-general Tim Davie is due to face the media on Tuesday for a scheduled briefing following the release of the corporation’s annual report, but the growing crisis involving the unnamed presenter will dominate the event.

Mr Davie has said he is “wholly condemning the unsubstantiated rumours being made on the internet about some of our presenting talent” after a host of famous BBC faces were forced to publicly state they were not the individual in question amid heavy speculation about the identity on social media.

In a note sent to staff and seen by PA, Mr Davie said the corporation takes “all such allegations incredibly seriously”.

A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC first became aware of a complaint in May.

“New allegations were put to us on Thursday of a different nature and in addition to our own inquiries we have also been in touch with external authorities, in line with our protocols.

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

“We expect to be in a position to provide a further update in the coming days as the process continues. The BBC board will continue to be kept up to date.”

The statement added the corporation has a “robust internal processes in place to proactively deal with such allegations”.

“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”, the BBC added.

“It is important that these matters are handled fairly and with care.

“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.”

BBC presenter explicit photos allegations
BBC director-general Tim Davie spoke with the Culture Secretary on Sunday (Jacob King/PA)

The allegations reported by The Sun newspaper claimed the BBC star paid the person, said to have been 17 when the payments began, £35,000 in exchange for the images.

The teenager’s mother told The Sun she saw a picture of the presenter on her child’s phone “sitting on a sofa in his house in his underwear”.

The mother said she was told it was “a picture from some kind of video call” and looked like he was “getting ready for my child to perform for him”.

The family were said to have complained to the BBC on May 19, but allegedly became frustrated that the star remained on air.

Mr Davie’s note to staff on Sunday said: “The BBC became aware of a complaint in May; the BBC investigations team have been looking into this since it was raised and have been actively following up.

“New allegations, of a different nature, were put to us on Thursday, and in addition to our own enquiries we have also been in touch with external authorities, in line with our protocols.

“I can also confirm that we have suspended a member of staff.”

He added: “By law, individuals are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy, which is making this situation more complex. I also want to be very clear that I am wholly condemning the unsubstantiated rumours being made on the internet about some of our presenting talent.

“We are in contact with the family referenced in the media reports. I want to assure you that we are working rapidly to establish the facts and to ensure that these matters are handled fairly and with care, including by external authorities where appropriate.”

Earlier on Sunday, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said Mr Davie assured her the corporation is “investigating swiftly and sensitively” into the allegations.

Gary Lineker and Rylan Clark were among the BBC stars who publicly stated they were not the presenter in question, with Lineker tweeting: “Hate to disappoint the haters but it’s not me.”

While Clark wrote: “Not sure why my name’s floating about but re that story in the Sun – that ain’t me babe. I’m currently filming a show in Italy for the BBC, so take my name out ya mouths.”

Jeremy Vine also 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.”

Nicky Campbell suggested he had contacted police about being falsely mentioned online in connection with the story.

He tweeted a screenshot which featured the Metropolitan Police logo and the words: “Thank you for contacting the Metropolitan Police Service to report your crime.”

“I think it’s important to take a stand. There’s just too many of these people on social media. Thanks for your support friends,” he wrote.

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