The BBC is investigating serious allegations about one of its presenters “swiftly and sensitively”, the culture secretary has said.
Lucy Frazer has spoken on the phone to BBC director-general Tim Davie over the “deeply concerning” claims that the unnamed star paid a teenager more than £35,000 for sexually explicit pictures.
The presenter allegedly first requested images from the youth in 2020 when they were aged 17 and has made a series of payments over the years, according to The Sun.
Ms Frazer wrote on Twitter: “Given the nature of the allegations it is important that the BBC is now given the space to conduct its investigation, establish the facts and take appropriate action.”
In new allegations published in The Sun on Sunday, the young person’s mother said she was “shocked” when her child showed her a screenshot of a video chat, in which the well-known presenter was sitting in his boxer shorts on a sofa at his home.
She said the man appeared to be “leaning forward, getting ready for my child to perform for him”.
“My child told me, ‘I have shown things’ and this was a picture from some kind of video call,” she added.
The newspaper did not say when the alleged incident happened.
The mother also said that earlier this year she was shocked when she overheard the presenter “on the phone saying to my child: ‘I told you not to f***ing ring me’.”
No one involved has been named, but The Sun said the presenter has not been suspended. It is understood he is still being paid his six-figure salary in full. The teenager is now aged 20.
The newspaper said the family made a complaint on 19 May but came forward to The Sun after becoming frustrated that the man was still on air a month later.
The mother said her child told her they had also received a payment of £1,000 via PayPal in June which suggested that the “BBC hadn’t spoken to this man” in the weeks after the initial complaint.
Meanwhile, the presenter is now off-air and the BBC has launched an investigation.
The youth, who is now aged 20, used the money to fund a crack cocaine habit which “destroyed” their life, the mother has also claimed.
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Several political figures have been critical of the BBC’s handling of the allegations, with Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves telling Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that the allegations were “deeply concerning”.
“The idea that some presenters think they act with impunity and they can get away with these sorts of things – it does call into question the ethics, the investigations, how long these things take,” she said.
“And the BBC, but also other broadcasters, do need to get a grip because we seem to lurch from one scandal to another, and more needs to be done.”