The BBC has said it is taking “very seriously” allegations that one of its top presenters paid a teenager tens of thousands of pounds for sexual images.
British tabloid newspaper The Sun reported on Friday night that the unnamed male star was off air while the BBC investigates the issue.
The newspaper alleged that the presenter had given the teenager more than £35,000 ($45,000) in return for explicit pictures. It said the exchanges started in 2020 when the teenager was aged 17.
The Sun said it had been contacted by the teenager’s mother, who said she did not want payment for telling her story.
She told the newspaper that she lodged a complaint with the BBC on May 19. The corporation launched an investigation headed by a cybercrime expert, but the presenter remained on air.
The mother claimed that her child had used the money to fund their crack cocaine habit. “I blame this BBC man for destroying my child’s life,” she was quoted as saying.
She said the presenter did little to conceal his identity and requested “performances.” Bank records show the teenager was paid a lump sum of £5,000 on one occasion.
The mother added: “There were huge sums, hundreds, or thousands of pounds at a time … The money had been in exchange for sexually explicit photographs of my child.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “We treat any allegations very seriously and we have processes in place to proactively deal with them.
“As part of that, if we receive information that requires further investigation or examination we will take steps to do this. That includes actively attempting to speak to those who have contacted us in order to seek further detail and understanding of the situation.
“If we get no reply to our attempts or receive no further contact that can limit our ability to progress things but it does not mean our enquiries stop. If, at any point, new information comes to light or is provided – including via newspapers – this will be acted upon appropriately, in line with internal processes.”