View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. News
July 13, 2023

Sun defends reporting as Huw Edwards named BBC presenter at centre of controversy

As police find no evidence of criminality, The Sun insists it never made such an allegation.

By Bron Maher

Huw Edwards has been named by his wife, the journalist Vicky Flind, as the previously unidentified BBC presenter alleged by The Sun to have paid someone for sexual images.

The revelation came only a few minutes after the Metropolitan Police announced they had found no evidence a criminal offence had been committed in the case.

Flind also disclosed that Edwards has been hospitalised amid a serious mental health episode.

And The Sun released its own statement, insisting following the police decision that it had never made an allegation of criminality against Edwards and saying that it was now drawing a line under its reporting of the affair.

What are the claims at the centre of the Huw Edwards story and what have the police said?

The Sun reported on Friday night that it had been approached by a woman whose son had been cumulatively paid £35,000 over three years for sexual images by a then-unnamed, high-profile BBC presenter. The paper said that the relationship began when the younger individual was 17.

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

The BBC subsequently suspended that presenter, now known to be Edwards, pending an investigation. That investigation was in turn suspended on Tuesday at the request of the Metropolitan Police while the force scoped possible criminality.

Content from our partners
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution
Papermule: Workflow automation for publishers

On Wednesday evening, the Met said they had concluded the assessment and “determined there is no information to indicate that a criminal offence has been committed”.

This determination was made after the Met’s Specialist Crime Command spoke to parties including the BBC and “the alleged complainant and the alleged complainant’s family”, who were contacted via South Wales Police.

South Wales Police also released a statement, revealing that they had been approached about “the welfare of an adult” in April – the month before the BBC had been contacted – and had also not identified evidence of criminality.

Immediately afterwards, Flind released her statement, saying: “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.”

What has The Sun said?

Asked to comment on the news that police had found no evidence of criminality, a spokesperson for The Sun said: “The allegations published by The Sun were always very serious. Further serious allegations have emerged in the past few days.

“It is right that the BBC’s Corporate Investigations Team continues to investigate these thoroughly and deals with them in the way that they think is appropriate.”

The tabloid said it would cooperate with the BBC investigation and would provide the corporation “with a confidential and redacted dossier containing serious and wide-ranging allegations which we have received, including some from BBC personnel”. (Newsnight reported new claims on Wednesday night that Edwards had sent allegedly flirtatious and inappropriate messages to three BBC colleagues.)

The Sun’s statement continued that it had no plans to publish further allegations against Edwards.

“We must also re-emphasise that The Sun at no point in our original story alleged criminality and also took the decision neither to name Mr Edwards nor the young person involved in the allegations,” the newspaper said.

“Suggestions about possible criminality were first made at a later date by other media outlets, including the BBC.

“From the outset, we have reported a story about two very concerned and frustrated parents who made a complaint to the BBC about the behaviour of a presenter and payments from him that fuelled the drug habit of a young person.”

What did The Sun originally allege happened?

The Sun’s original report said interactions between Edwards and the younger individual began when the latter was 17 – raising the possibility that the exchange of images would be a breach of the law.

The original Sun story does not disclose how old they were when payments or images began to be exchanged – reporting only that “Sleazy messages are alleged to have started in 2020, when the youngster was 17”.

A subsequent Sun follow-up of a Times story went further, stating: “Top BBC star who ‘paid child for sex pictures’ could be charged by cops and face years in prison, expert says”.

Debate over whether the Huw Edwards story was in public interest

The news that there is no evidence of criminality on Edwards’ part has led to questions over whether The Sun’s reporting was in the public interest.

The fact police forces are not pursuing the matter suggests there was no exchange of sexual images with an under 18-year-old.

Robert Peston, whose show on ITV is produced by Flind, asked on his programme whether “if it remains clear, as the police say, no crime was committed, there was a public interest in publishing the original story and in the subsequent coverage”.

The Scotsman’s Westminster correspondent Alexander Brown was among those expressing concern about the coverage.

Others have questioned whether the BBC itself pursued coverage of the scandal too vigorously, with its former presenter Jon Sopel saying on Twitter that he was “struck by how many of my former BBC colleagues – some very senior – have been in touch to express their anger and dismay at their own coverage of this”.

Free speech campaign Toby Young, however, said: “If Huw Edwards was a GB News presenter, the liberal Left would be screaming for his head. But because he’s a pillar of the BBC, they’re demanding the horrid tabloids leave him alone, claiming it’s a purely personal matter.”

And Talkradio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer was also among those arguing coverage of the story was in the public interest:

Topics in this article : ,

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network