The BBC staffer accused of paying a teenager for sexually explicit photographs has been named as Huw Edwards, one of the network’s top anchors.
The equivalent of NBC’s Brian Williams (before he was fired for embellishing an Iraq war story), Edwards is one of the most senior on-air figures at the corporation and was the anchor chosen to break news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death to the world last September. He is the fourth highest paid figure at the BBC.
Edwards’ wife, Vicky Flind, issued a statement on the anchor’s behalf saying Edwards is suffering “serious mental health issues” and has been hospitalized. “As is well documented, he has been treated for severe depression in recent years,” she said. “The events of the last few days have greatly worsened matters.”
Last weekend, U.K. tabloid The Sun broke the news that an unnamed anchor — whom they described as a “well-known presenter” — had been taken off air while the the BBC investigated allegations he had paid a teenager over £35,000 ($44,500) in exchange for explicit photographs since they were 17.
Accompanying the story was an interview with the teen’s mother (whose name had also been withheld) who claimed the money had been used to fund the teenager’s “crack habit.”
In a surprising twist, two days after the story broke a lawyer for the teenager released a statement disputing the mother’s account and saying “nothing inappropriate or unlawful has taken place between our client and the BBC personality and the allegations reported in The Sun newspaper are rubbish,” according to The Times of London.
Before the teen’s statement was released, the BBC said they had suspended the anchor while they investigated the matter. It was also reported the Metropolitan Police had been contacted. On Wednesday evening, the BBC released a statement saying the police did not plan to investigate and the corporation would be resuming its investigation.
“We have seen the statement from the police confirming they have completed their assessment and are not taking further action,” a spokesperson said. “We’re grateful to them for completing this work at speed. The police had previously asked us to pause our fact finding investigations and we will now move forward with that work, ensuring due process and a thorough assessment of the facts, whilst continuing to be mindful of our duty of care to all involved.”
Under the U.K.’s Protection of Children Act in 1978 it is a crime to take, make, share and possess indecent images of people under 18, and the the maximum sentence for the offense is 10 years.
Read Vicky Flind’s full statement below:
“In light of the recent reporting regarding the ‘BBC Presenter’ I am making this statement on behalf of my husband Huw Edwards, after what have been five extremely difficult days for our family. I am doing this primarily out of concern for his mental well-being and to protect our children.
Huw is suffering from serious mental health issues. As is well documented, he has been treated for severe depression in recent years. The events of the last few days have greatly worsened matters, he has suffered another serious episode and is now receiving in-patient hospital care where he’ll stay for the foreseeable future.
Once well enough to do so, he intends to respond to the stories that have been published. To be clear Huw was first told that there were allegations being made against him last Thursday.
In the circumstances and given Huw’s condition I would like to ask that the privacy of my family and everyone else caught up in these upsetting events is respected.
I know that Huw is deeply sorry that so many colleagues have been impacted by the recent media speculation. We hope this statement will bring that to an end.”