The BBC News website is, once again, full of stories about the corporation itself. A presenter has been suspended over allegations, published in the Sun, that he paid a 17-year-old for sexually explicit images. There was a meeting between the corporation and the police today, with the Met now involved.
The suspended star’s name is not (yet) in the public domain but social media users have been firing accusations at a range of BBC talent. It is worth emphasising that posting names and insinuating in any way that they might have done anything wrong or are the subject of the story is REALLY not a good idea. You will almost certainly end up getting sued.
BBC journalists having to report on the organisation they are part of rarely ends well. Look at the farce that surrounded Gary Lineker being taken off air for tweeting political views, a story that dominated the headlines for days and blew up a weekend of sports coverage. As I wrote at the time:
Ultimately, the BBC let itself get into an unnecessary battle with a combination of one of its biggest stars and football fans. There could only be one winner.
This time around, of course, it is not an “unnecessary battle”. These are serious allegations that need investigating and dealing with. In the coming days, there will be a lot of focus on what the BBC knew, when and what it did with the information it had.
As a publicly-funded broadcaster, the BBC always faces heightened scrutiny. Incidents when it has to report on itself inevitably lead to all sorts of tensions. One former BBC staffer told me “This is the worst Beeb-on-Beeb I can recall”. This feels like one of those cases where things get worse before they start to get better in any way.
The lawyer representing the young person at the heart of the story has said it is “rubbish” and that there is “no truth” to the original story published on Friday, BBC News reported. Indeed, they described it as an “inappropriate article” and said that a denial was issued.
This is getting very messy.