BBC bosses to face questions in Parliament following Huw Edwards furore
BBC director-general Tim Davie will be questioned in Parliament about the corporation’s leadership following the Huw Edwards furore, as the broadcaster’s long-time colleague Jon Sopel said Edwards was “very angry” about the coverage the story has been given.
Mr Davie, acting chairwoman Dame Elan Closs Stephens and policy director Clare Sumner will appear before the Lords Communications Committee on Tuesday.
Despite the appearance being booked before the Edwards story broke, the Committee said on Thursday that it would raise issues including “in light of recent events, what concerns have been raised about the adequacy of the BBC’s governance arrangements and how it is addressing these”.
Mr Davie has already ordered a review to “assess how some complaints are red flagged up the organisation” following allegations a high-profile presenter, now known to be Edwards, paid a young person for explicit images.
The BBC is currently conducting “fact-finding investigations” into allegations against the veteran broadcaster, after he was named by his wife on Wednesday night.
Vicky Flind issued a statement via the PA news agency to say her husband is “suffering from serious mental health issues” and is receiving in-patient hospital care.
The Metropolitan Police have said no criminal offence has been committed by Edwards and no further police action will be taken “at this time”, allowing an internal BBC investigation to resume.
The Sun, which first reported allegations against the then-unnamed presenter last week, claiming he had paid a young person tens of thousands of pounds for explicit images, said it has no plans to publish further allegations and will co-operate with the BBC’s internal investigation process.
Sopel, who worked with Edwards for decades, said Edwards was “very angry” and “felt very let down” by the coverage of the allegations made about him.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain he had been in touch with Edwards before he went to hospital.
He said: “We’ve had contact, obviously not since he’s been hospitalised.
“He was very angry, I think felt very let down by what happened in The Sun, furious with their coverage, not overly impressed with the BBC’s coverage either.
“I’m sure anyone who knows him is just wishing him well.”
He added: “If there’s no question of illegality, there’s no question of sexual assault and things might change, but, as things stand now, there’s been no illegality, there’s been no abuse of power, as far as I can see. Therefore, what is it to do with anybody?”
On Wednesday BBC Newsnight reported new claims from one current and one former BBC worker, who said they had received “inappropriate messages” from Edwards, “some late at night and signed off with kisses”.
Both said there was “a reluctance among junior staff to complain to managers about the conduct of high-profile colleagues in case it adversely affected their careers,” the programme said.
Following the family statement, Mr Davie said in a note to staff it is “important” that the work on the internal investigation continues, adding: “I want to be clear that in doing so we will follow due process.”
He also stressed that the corporation’s “immediate concern is our duty of care to all involved”.
In the days leading up to Edwards being named, BBC presenters including Gary Lineker, Rylan Clark, Nicky Campbell and Jeremy Vine were forced to publicly deny they were the unnamed presenter at the centre of allegations.
Edwards is the BBC’s highest-paid newsreader, with a pay bracket of £435,000–£439,999, putting him fourth on the top 10 list, the corporation’s annual report revealed on Tuesday.
The presenter was last seen on BBC One’s News At Ten on July 5 when he co-presented a special edition live from Edinburgh as the King was honoured in the Scottish capital.
Mental health charities have called for Edwards to be given the support and treatment he needs.
The director of Mind Cymru, Susan O’Leary, said Edwards, who is patron of a branch of Mind in Llanelli, said: “We would like to stress that it is important that anybody experiencing serious mental health problems is given the appropriate space to receive the treatment they need.
“We acknowledge that the ongoing news coverage could impact people in many different ways. Mind is here to support anyone who needs help with their mental health.”
Rethink Mental Illness also wrote on Twitter that “everyone connected” to the story should be supported and have their mental health “prioritised”.
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