Sunak calls for investigation into BBC presenter allegations
Pressure is mounting on the BBC presenter accused of paying a teenager thousands of pounds for explicit photographs, with Piers Morgan warning it was “only a matter of time” before he was unmasked.
Fresh claims about the anonymous man emerged yesterday, hot on the heels of previous claims published by The Sun on Friday.
The newspaper’s front page today also reported that a 23-year-old person has accused the presenter of breaking lockdown rules to meet them during the pandemic in February 2021.
The latest individual claimed the presenter had started a chat with them via Instagram in which he used hearts and kisses.
In an interview they said: “Looking back now it does seem creepy because he was messaging me when I was still at school.”
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They also claimed the presenter visited them two years ago when lockdown restrictions were in force, saying: “He came round for an hour. I was quite shocked that he broke the rules to come and meet me because of who he is. I was just a random person online.”
Posting online yesterday, Vine said the latest allegations would result in “yet more vitriol being thrown at perfectly innocent colleagues” at the BBC.
Vine is one of several celebrities, including Nicky Campbell, Gary Lineker and Rylan Clark, who have stated publicly that they are not the presenter in question, since the allegations were first made public.
Vine tweeted: “I’m starting to think the BBC presenter involved in the scandal should now come forward publicly.
“These new allegations will result in yet more vitriol being thrown at perfectly innocent colleagues of his.
“And the BBC, which I’m sure he loves, is on its knees with this. But it is his decision and his alone.”
Talk TV host Piers Morgan called on the unnamed presenter to come forward “for the good of his colleagues, the BBC and himself”.
He added: “It’s only a matter of time before he loses agency in the situation and somebody blurts out in Parliament, or on a less responsible network.”
“For the good of his colleagues, the BBC, and himself and his reputation, it is surely time for that presenter to reveal his own identity, and to vow to clear his name and defend himself if that’s what he can do.”
David Keighley, former BBC news producer and director of News-watch, said the presenter’s continuing anonymity was causing “reputational damage” to the man’s colleagues.
He told Times Radio: “What needs to be done here is a very thorough investigation, and conclusions can’t be jumped to until we know the full facts.
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“But at the same time, you’ve got a developing situation, which is because it has been contained in the way it has. And we stress again, we don’t know precisely why that is.
“It is causing reputational damage, not just to the BBC itself, but to other presenters. It’s spreading like a cancer, is the problem.”
Publicist and strategist Mark Borkowski also told Times Radio the presenter could not go unnamed much longer.
He said: “We’ve got a situation where it’s an ongoing car crash and the BBC is so glacial about how they’re dealing with this, because this is a 21st century problem.
“They’re dealing with 20th century, sort of communication processes. We’re above it all.
“There’s a heavy legal duty on this and a duty of care, which makes it a nightmare for anybody managing this and to say that, okay, but I don’t believe that it can carry on for much longer that this person is not named”.
BBC director-general Tim Davie has ordered a review to “assess how some complaints are red flagged up the organisation”.
He has said the BBC is dealing with a “complex and difficult situation” after the “serious allegations”.
Speaking to GB News, Michael Fabricant, the Tory MP for Lichfield, said: “You can say, of course, that the best form of defence is attack and if you’ve been wrongly accused, one argument about being put forward and it’s perfectly reasonable argument…is to say, look, come out straight away, defend yourself and put an end to it.
“On the other hand, if you’re innocent and you’ve got your wife, children, maybe you might feel, ‘leave it to the police, let them deal with it and maybe clear the whole thing up very rapidly, and we can move on from there’.”
Speaking to Sky News, Treasury Minister Victoria Atkins was likewise pushed on whether the BBC presenter should identify himself.
She said: “I’m not going to comment on an individual, the duties or responsibilities of them to name themselves.”
However there was a role for social media firms “to see what they are doing and checking on their platforms”, Ms Atkins added.
And she warned MPs should be “very careful” about using parliamentary privilege to identify the presenter, saying they had to remember the “huge responsibility” they have.
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