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In the aftermath of the Huw Edwards matter, where the top BBC presenter was accused of paying a teenager for sexually explicit photographs, a U.K. parliamentary inquiry has demanded further information from the corporation and Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun.
The Sun broke the news that a then unnamed anchor, subsequently revealed as Edwards, had been taken off air while the BBC investigated allegations he had paid a teenager over £35,000 ($44,500) in exchange for explicit photographs since they were 17.
On Tuesday, the U.K. House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee wrote to The Sun editor Victoria Newton asking about editorial procedures and details about the newspaper’s story verification and decision-making processes and to Elan Cross Stephens, acting BBC chair, requesting further details about the reviews into wider BBC processes the corporation is carrying out in light of the allegations and its plans to publish the findings.
“Our role is not to challenge individual stories or editorial decisions, but we would be grateful if you could set out the processes by which The Sun verifies any story it chooses to report, especially those where issues of privacy may be at stake,” committee chair Caroline Dinenage wrote to Newton.
“Given the concerns that have been reported about inaccuracies, changing narratives and lack of engagement with some of the parties involved in the case of Mr. Edwards, we would also be interested to understand what was done to verify this specific story and what, if any, reviews or discussions are ongoing about The Sun’s procedures and reporting in this case and any wider lessons to be learned. Since this story was reported, allegations have been made about a former employee of The Sun, Dan Wootton, who has been reported as being involved in payments for sexual material. We would be grateful if you could set out what investigations are taking place into this matter,” the letter added.
In the letter to Stephens, Dinenage wrote: “We share your concern to respect the privacy of individuals and to give due regard to the BBC’s duty of care obligations. As such, it is entirely appropriate that the BBC’s fact-finding investigation is a confidential process. However, we are keen to see that the BBC conducts its two wider reviews in a transparent manner.”
“It is important that the public are reassured that the BBC is taking appropriate actions to ensure that the `red flagging’ process works effectively,” the letter added. The BBC’s terms of reference for the Edwards investigation are due to be published imminently.