BBC’s handling of allegations ‘may need to be investigated’, says justice secretary

The justice secretary has said there may need to be an investigation into how the BBC has handled the allegations into one of its high profile presenters.

The unnamed male presenter reportedly remained on air after the teenager’s mother first made a complaint to the BBC in May. Reports say the presenter made another payment for sexually explicit photos to the young person in June.

Alex Chalk told Sky News this morning that if this is the case, the BBC’s actions were “astonishing”.

He said the allegations were “very serious and concerning” and must be “dealt with as quickly, as fairly and as robustly as possible”.

He added: “What we’re now seeing today, as I understand there’s going to be a meeting with the police and that’s absolutely right, and it may be that in the fullness of time there may need to be an investigation about how this allegation was handled. That’s quite possible.”

Mr Chalk said “right now” it is important that in the interests of the complainant this is “dealt with as quickly and as fairly and as robustly as possible”.

The comments come after the unnamed BBC presenter was suspended over the allegations. 

The male presenter — said to be a “household name” — reportedly first requested images in 2020 when the youth was aged 17 and made a series of payments over the years. 

According to The Sun, they allegedly paid more than £35,000, which the young person had reportedly used to fund an addiction to drugs.

The BBC has now been in touch with external authorities, the corporation said in a statement on Sunday.

Also speaking this morning, Labour’s shadow financial secretary James Murray said questions surrounding the BBC’s actions “do shake the trust a little bit” in the corporation.

Calling the allegations “really concerning”, Mr Murray told Sky News: “Once the investigation has concluded, we need to take a step back and look at the process, what has happened in terms of the delay, has the BBC acted quickly enough, making sure the BBC has responded in the right way to these very serious allegations.

“The BBC needs to show they are taking this seriously and taking the right precautions.”

He added: “You don’t want other BBC presenters to be implicated because they haven’t been named as the subject of the investigation.

“I don’t think there’s any easy way through this but I think what is important is that the BBC concludes their investigation as quickly as possible. I think questions like this do shake the trust a little bit in the BBC”.