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10th Jul 2023

BBC ‘explicit images’ case could land presenter on sex offenders register

Steve Hopkins

And the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment

A leading child abuse lawyer says the BBC presenter accused of paying a teenager for explicit images could be added to the sex offenders register if convicted over the scandal.

On Saturday, the Sun revealed the household name, who has been suspended but not identified, was accused of paying a teen £35,000 for sexual pictures since they were 17. The youngster, now 20, is said to have used the money to buy crack cocaine.

The young person’s family complained to the BBC on 19 May and begged them to make the man “stop sending the cash”, before contacting The Sun.

The broadcaster is now coming under fire for not acting sooner, with the presenter only being stood Sunday. He has reportedly contacted the young person, twice since asking that the investigation be stopped.

As the BBC is set to meet with the Met to discuss the case today, a lawyer who has taken abuse cases against the Ministry of Defence and the Scout Association has detailed the possible ramification if the presenter is convicted.

Rebecca Sheriff, partner in the abuse claims team at Bolt Burdon Kemp, told JOE that while the young person involved was over the sexual age of consent, “the laws around the making and possessing of indecent images are entirely different”.

She explained: “The Protection of Children Act 1978 denotes that it is a crime to take, make, share and possess indecent images of people under 18. A person under the age of 18 is not legally able to give consent to images being taken of themselves.”

The crime, Sheriff explained, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

She added that as part of the punishment, if the presenter is convicted or cautioned for a sexual offence, “he would be required to sign onto the sex offenders register – this is for any perpetrator that commits sexual offences which includes indecent images.”

The young person’s family are now said to be unhappy with the wording of a statement the corporation made Sunday announcing that a staff member had been suspended and that it was working as fast as possible “to establish the facts in order to properly inform appropriate next steps”.

Sheriff added: “Understandably, the child’s family are disappointed and upset with the BBC’s response: it is said that the BBC’s Director General, Tim Davie, only found out about the allegations last week, yet the child’s parent is alleged to have first made a complaint in May.

“Furthermore, the child’s family state that no one contacted them from the BBC after the initial complaint was made. This is not a good look for the BBC, and suggests that it deals with serious allegations of this nature by sweeping them under the carpet.”

Sheriff said that shows a police investigation “is needed and welcome.”

“In the weeks to come, it will be important to determine the chronology of events – the question being: what did the BBC know, and when?,” she said.

On Monday, the BBC’s former legal correspondent, Joshua Rozenberg, told Sky News that he thinks the broadcaster will be attempting to convince the presenter to “say something” soon.

“We imagine that they are desperately trying to persuade the presenter concerned to actually say something, but if he is choosing not to, presumably on legal advice, then they have a risk,” he told the broadcaster.

“They have a duty to their presenter who works for them, they have a duty to the public to let them know what’s going on”.

Rozenberg also spoke about the police investigation into the matter. The BBC is due to meet the Met today over the allegations.

Rozenberg said he suspected the Met’s inquiries are at “very, very early stages”.

“Clearly, any investigation and any prosecution is a long way off,” he said.

His comments came as home secretary Suella Braverman urged the public to be patience, saying the BBC investigation should be allowed to play out before the public “jump to any conclusions”.

“I think it is right that we allow the process to play out in the proper way, the BBC has announced that they are carrying out an internal investigation to establish the facts,” she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

She added: “[It’s] important to let that play out before we jump to any conclusions.”

The Met said it has “received initial contact” from the BBC over the claims but no formal referral or ­allegation has been made.

It was also claimed Sunday that the presenter had attended an awards ­ceremony along with BBC bosses last month

BBC director general Tim Davie claimed the presenter was dropped after “new ­allegations” came to light.

While the youngster’s family had initially made a complaint some seven weeks ago, the BBC said allegations of a “difference nature” were put to the broadcaster on 6 July. The following day, The Sun broke the story. On Sunday, the BBC confirmed the presenter had been suspended.

Labour’s Rachel Reeves said: “The BBC needs to get a grip. We seem to lurch from one scandal to another.”

The shadow chancellor added to the Mirror: “The idea that some presenters think they can act with impunity and get away with these sorts of things calls into question the ethics, the ­investigations, how long these things take. When serious allegations are made I don’t think it is right that people stay in those jobs while investigations go on. There needs to be a full investigation.”

Several BBC stars including ­Jeremy Vine, Nicky Campbell, Gary Lineker and Rylan Clark have publicly stated they are not the presenter involved.

BBC ‘desperately attempting’ to make ‘explicit pics’ presenter come forward, report claims

BBC presenter accused of paying for pics ‘called youngster twice to demand their mum stops investigation’

BBC suspends presenter accused of paying thousands to teen for explicit pictures

Gary Lineker denies being BBC host accused of ‘paying teen for explicit pics’

Jeremy Vine and Rylan Clark deny they are the BBC host accused of ‘paying teen for explicit pics’


BBC,Met Police