The BBC host accused of paying a teenager for sexual images was accused on Tuesday of sending a string of abusive messages to another young person they met on a dating app.
A new series of bombshell allegations, reported by the BBC itself, says the unnamed host anonymously contacted the person in their early 20s on a dating app. The individual said the male star pressured them to meet up, but a meeting never actually took place.
When the new accuser suggested they might name the BBC host online, the star allegedly sent “abusive, expletive-filled messages.” The BBC says the recipient felt “scared by the power” held by the well-known host, and that “they remain scared.” The British broadcaster also confirmed the menacing messages were sent from a phone number belonging to the host who, since last week, has been embroiled in the most talked-about scandal in Britain.
In a statement Tuesday, the BBC said its corporate investigations team had a meeting with London’s Metropolitan Police a day earlier relating to allegations published by The Sun newspaper that the host had paid another young person—who has no connection to the recipient of the abusive messages—for sexual images. “As a result of this meeting, the BBC has been asked to pause its investigations into the allegations while the Police scope future work,” the statement read.
The national broadcaster also published a timeline saying it had first been contacted on May 18 by someone “who sought to make a complaint” about the behavior of a BBC host, and that unsuccessful attempts to contact the complainant were made in the days after.
Then last week, The Sun published its allegations in which a mother said a well-known BBC star had paid their child around $45,000 for sexual images and video calls, beginning in 2020 when the child, now 20, was just 17. She added that her child had used the money to fund a crack cocaine habit. The BBC says the claims in the tabloid’s article were “new allegations” which differed to the ones which it had been investigating since May.
On Monday, the BBC confirmed the host involved in the allegations had been suspended. Since then, the saga was complicated by a lawyer representing the young person making a statement saying the mother’s claims are “rubbish” and that “nothing inappropriate or unlawful” had taken place between their client and the BBC host—even claiming that young person sent a denial to The Sun before it published its first story. The newspaper has stood by its reporting and said the story has always been “about concerned parents trying to stop payments to their vulnerable child which was funding a life-risking drug habit.”
While the legal age of consent in England and Wales is 16, it’s illegal to make or possess “indecent images” of anyone under the age of 18.
With pressure mounting on the publicly-funded broadcaster, BBC Director General Tim Davie appeared on BBC radio on Tuesday. During the interview, Davie insisted it was not “odd” that he had not spoken to the accused star and said he didn’t know “categorically” if the host was bankrolling the legal fees of the young person involved in the allegations published by The Sun.
How much damage have the allegations a TV star paid a teen for explicit pictures done to the BBC?— The World at One (@BBCWorldatOne) July 11, 2023
Director general Tim Davie tells #BBCWATO the BBC is "often in the midst of quite difficult and painful affairs." pic.twitter.com/EPSjHPpFiX
He added that the BBC is “often in the midst of quite painful and difficult affairs and storms, and these are clearly damaging to the BBC.” Davie also would not go into how the initial complaint received by the BBC in May differed from the allegations in The Sun, saying only that the first allegations were “clearly serious” because the corporate investigations team decided to begin a probe.
Sarah Montague, the radio host interviewing Davie, also remarked on “the very strange situation” in which the host “has not been named, but everyone in this building knows who it is.” She added that Davie had a “duty of care” to other male BBC hosts who have already had to publicly deny that the allegations are about them while the individual involved remains anonymous. “It is a very difficult and complex situation, and we’re trying to calmly and judiciously navigate our way through quite difficult circumstances,” Davie answered.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday was asked about a scenario in which a lawmaker could use parliamentary privilege—a right which protects British politicians from being sued—to name the mystery BBC host. “Obviously we support freedom of speech, but this is a sensitive issue which is being looked at carefully, and the relevant authorities need to be given the appropriate time to carry out that work,” the spokesperson said.