BBC defends news channel’s coverage of Huw Edwards allegations after complaints
The BBC has described BBC News’ reporting of allegations made against presenter Huw Edwards as “proportionate” following complaints the broadcaster gave the story “too much coverage”.
The corporation said it was careful to “sensitively” report claims that veteran broadcaster Edwards was paying a young person for sexually explicit images, balancing the public interest with the “privacy and welfare of all those affected”.
It responded to complaints that BBC News gave “too much coverage to the allegations” made against Edwards, on the same day that it set out the scope of a review into how it handles non-editorial complaints.
The family of the young person originally complained to the BBC in May and the BBC said it tried to contact them twice before The Sun published an exclusive story detailing the allegations.
Acknowledging complaints that BBC News gave the story too much prominence, the broadcaster said: “BBC News reports on the BBC independently and impartially in the same way as we would with any other organisation.
“We scrutinised and investigated all aspects of the story, including other allegations against the presenter, the journalistic merit of the Sun’s decision to publish, privacy law in the social media age and the reputational implications for the BBC.
“Legal and privacy considerations, which we explained in detail throughout our coverage, meant we couldn’t name Huw Edwards; it was only following the statement issued by his family that we were in a position to do so.
“We transparently explained the reasons why this was the case and that this was a complex story with many of the facts unknown.”
It said it was important for BBC News to keep it’s audience “updated with developments”, which included statements from the Metropolitan and South Wales police saying it had found no evidence that a criminal offence had been committed by Edwards.
“We believe our coverage of this story was proportionate, reflecting the significance of the issues raised. However, we realise not everyone will agree with the stories we cover and the prominence we give them,” the BBC added.
In a letter to BBC News, the young person at the centre of the controversy said via lawyers nothing inappropriate or unlawful happened with the-then unnamed presenter, and the Sun later said it had no plans to publish further allegations.
On Friday, the BBC published the terms of reference for a review that will assess the effectiveness of current BBC policies and processes into how it handles non-editorial complaints.
It said it will “gather specific learnings” on the processes deployed in the handling of complaints made against Edwards, and will set out the findings of the review and management’s key remedial action plan to be implemented.
The review is being led by BBC group chief operating officer Leigh Tavaziva in July and “completed by late autumn”, it said.
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