BBC anchor Huw Edwards named in explicit images row
Edwards is one of the most recognisable faces on UK television, and was the man entrusted with telling the world that Queen Elizabeth II had died.
Picture File: BBC journalist Huw Edwards speaks in front of a camera in Downing Street in central London on September 5, 2022. Picture: AFP.
Veteran news anchor Huw Edwards was on Wednesday revealed by his wife as the BBC presenter accused of paying for explicit images but police said no criminal offence had been committed.
The furore has been front-page news and leading radio and television news bulletins in British media for six successive days.
It comes after the publicly funded BBC – whose brand is built on public trust – was rocked in recent years by scandals that saw some of their biggest names revealed as serial sex offenders.
But while traditional media outlets – bound by strict privacy and defamation laws – did not name the presenter, there was frenzied speculation on social media as to who it was.
Confirming his identity, Edwards’ wife Vicky Flind said her husband was “suffering from serious mental health issues” and was now “receiving in-patient hospital care where he will stay for the foreseeable future”.
London’s Metropolitan Police said there was “no information to indicate that a criminal offence has been committed” after examining the information received. South Wales Police said the same.
Welsh journalist Edwards, 61, is one of the most recognisable faces on UK television, and was the man entrusted with telling the world that Queen Elizabeth II had died.
The BBC has been under the spotlight since allegations emerged last week in The Sun newspaper from the parents of a young adult, who said that the presenter had paid for explicit images of their child.
The young adult, however, called the claims “rubbish”.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid newspaper, a longtime critic of the BBC and a supporter of the ruling Conservative party, accused the corporation of failing to properly investigate the claims.
Edward’s wife said she was revealing his identity “after what have been five extremely difficult days for our family” and was doing so “primarily out of concern for his mental well-being and to protect our children”.
“Once well enough to do so, he intends to respond to the stories that have been published,” she added in a statement, saying that he only learned of the allegations on Thursday.
Media experts warned that attention could soon switch to The Sun after the police statement threw serious doubt on the parents’ claims of criminality.
“The question mark here is around the specific allegation made” of criminality, said media lawyer Matthew Gill of Howard Kennedy LLP.
“Now, it’s unclear from The Sun‘s reporting whether they had any concrete evidence,” he added, warning they could potentially face a defamation suit.
A spokesperson for The Sun said the newspaper “has no plans to publish further allegations” and would cooperate with the BBC’s own internal inquiry in the matter.
But they added: “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.
“Suggestions about possible criminality were first made at a later date by other media outlets, including the BBC.”
The newspaper’s reporting from the outset was about a complaint from the individual’s parents to the BBC about payments from the presenter that fuelled a drug habit, the spokesperson maintained.
Murdoch and the BBC have a long history of friction, with media industry publication Press Gazette calling the current claim and counter-claim “a war between two of the UK’s leading news publishers”.
“This episode can now only result with either News UK-owned The Sun or the BBC having their credibility severely diminished,” it added.
The first claims emerged in an article published Friday, in which the parents said the presenter had paid a total of £35,000 ($45,000) for the pictures.
The family said their child had used the money to fuel a crack cocaine addiction, prompting lawyers acting for the young person to deny the claims.
Three more people have since come forward with complaints, including that Edwards sent threatening and inappropriate messages, and allegedly broke Covid lockdown rules.