Senior MPs are demanding the BBC investigate its handling of allegations that a star presenter paid a teenager tens of thousands of pounds for explicit imagery, saying the company has “very serious questions” to answer.
Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the allegations were “deeply concerning” and urged the BBC to “get a handle on them”.
And Government Secretary Victoria Atkins urged the BBC to “act quickly” to deal with the allegations.
“These are very serious allegations and I understand the public’s concern about them,” she added.
And Ms Atkins, the finance secretary at the Treasury, told Sky News: “I think as public attention and concern mounts, the BBC needs to act very quickly to deal with these allegations and set out what it is doing to investigate them.” “
Ms Reeves said the BBC and other broadcasters appear to be “vacillating from one scandal to the next” and that their handling so far has been “not good enough”.
She told Sky News: “Someone makes a complaint and then the next night they turn on the TV and they’re still there and that’s not good enough.”
Ms Reeves added: “Investigations need to be done much more quickly and action needs to be taken more quickly where complaints are serious like this.”
“But the standards that moderators work to just have to be much, much higher. Nobody should get away with something like that and think they can get away with it.”
The alleged victim’s mother said the money – reportedly more than £35,000 – had been used to fund a cocaine addiction that had “ruined” her child’s life.
The family complained to the BBC about the behavior on May 19, begging the broadcaster to get the presenter to “stop sending the money,” according to The Sun.
Neither the person nor the teenager, who is believed to have been 17 when the payments began, have been unidentified.
The BBC said it “takes any allegations very seriously”. It has been reported that the star will not be on the air at the moment.
Dame Caroline Dinenage, a senior Tory MP and chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the BBC had “very serious questions” to answer.
She added, “It is vital that television companies have the right systems and processes in place to ensure that their stars, who hold disproportionate power and influence over the lives and careers of others, do not abuse it.”
And former Home Secretary Dame Priti Patel told The Sun the allegations were “absolutely appalling”. She said the BBC’s response was “ridiculous” and that it must allow the accuser and his family a “full and transparent investigation”.
Ms Patel added: “The BBC owes an explanation to the country that has funded it and placed its trust in it.”
“And the company must cooperate with the police when they are called upon to investigate.”
Several prominent figures have commented on the allegations and denied any involvement.
TV presenter Rylan Clark wrote on Twitter: “Not sure why my names are out but this story is out in the sun – it’s not me baby.” I’m filming a show in Italy for the BBC right now, so tell you my name.”
Shortly thereafter, radio star Jeremy Vine responded to the story, telling his Twitter followers, “It’s definitely not me.”
Gary Lineker tweeted, “I hate disappointing the haters but that’s not me.”
Nicky Campbell apparently indicated that he had contacted the police because he was mentioned in connection with the story.
He tweeted a screenshot of the Metropolitan Police logo and the words, “Thank you for contacting the Metropolitan Police Service to report your crime.”
In his tweet, he wrote: “I think it’s important to take a stand. There are just too many of these people on social media. Thank you for your support, friends.”