BBC issues apology over handling of Huw Edwards ‘explicit photos’ complaint

The BBC has apologised how it handled a 2023 complaint about the presenter Huw Edwards; allegations about his behaviour were made in May 2023 but did not reach senior managers until 6 July.

After an independent report into the incident by Deloitte, the corporation confirmed that the complaint was not “escalated quickly enough” and says that it has now changed its processes.

The case first came to the public’s attention when The Sun newspaper had published since debunked claims about a BBC News presenter paying a young person for sexual explicit photos.

The Sun broke the story on Friday (7 July), when it ran an interview with the young person’s mother. She claimed the money funded a debilitating addiction to crack cocaine, and that the transactions began when her child, now 20, was aged 17.

However the young person, via a lawyer, subsequently called the story “rubbish”.

Huw Edwards was named as the BBC presenter at the centre of the ongoing scandal by his wife Vicky Flind on 12 July 2023, as she also confirmed he had been hospitalised.

Flind said: “I am making this statement on behalf of my husband Huw Edwards, after what have been five extremely difficult days for our family. 

“I am doing this primarily out of concern for his mental well-being and to protect our children. 

“Huw is suffering from serious mental health issues. As is well documented, he has been treated for severe depression in recent years.

“The events of the last few days have greatly worsened matters, he has suffered another serious episode and is now receiving in-patient hospital care where he’ll stay for the foreseeable future. 

“Once well enough to do so, he intends to respond to the stories that have been published.”

The resulting scandal led to Edwards being taken off air in July, and he has not appeared since that time.

The Sun newspaper was accused of failing to meet “basic journalistic standards” over its reporting of allegations against BBC presenter Huw Edwards. Crucially, the young person at the centre of the allegations confirmed they had made a statement rubbishing the claims to The Sun before it published its story, which failed to make it into the paper.

The Metropolitan Police subsequently assessed that no crime has taken place. While The Sun has defended its reporting, which included subsequent, but less salacious, allegations from other sources, it has now said it doesn’t plan to report further claims.

Deloitte report

An independent report by consulting firm Deloitte into the BBC’s complaints handling procedure said a complaint about the BBC News presenter was made on the 18 May.

The report found that, when contact was first made by the family of a young person, the case was not logged properly nor was there a “documented process” for following up the allegations.

The Deloitte report, which surfaced on 24 February, also said that the complaint was recorded in the security log and was supposed to be escalated to the regional operations security manager, but this did not happen.

Leigh Tavazia, the BBC’s group chief operating officer, confirmed in a statement that the corporation had apologised to the young person’s family: “Although our existing processes and systems are, on the whole, working effectively, this review shows that we need to join them up better to ensure no matter how a non-editorial complaint comes into the BBC it is escalated swiftly, when needed, and dealt with by the right people.

“Where the review identifies process improvements we accept those in full, and we are delivering on an action plan with a number of enhancements already in place.

“The report identifies specific process shortcomings in the presenter case. The initial complaint in this case was not escalated quickly enough to senior management and we have apologised to the complainant for this.”

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