UK

BBC apologises to family of young person at centre of Huw Edwards furore

The move follows a review ordered into the handling of complaints at the corporation.

Huw Edwards
Huw Edwards Huw Edwards (Ian West/PA)

The BBC has apologised to the family of the young person at the centre of the Huw Edwards furore after a review into how non-editorial complaints are handled at the corporation.

A report, commissioned in the wake of the scandal, has found a need for “greater consistency” in how complaints at the corporation are processed.

The family of the young person originally complained about Edwards to the BBC in May 2023 and the BBC said it tried to contact them twice before The Sun published an exclusive story detailing the allegations he paid a young person for sexually explicit photos.

However, BBC senior leadership was only informed of the issue on July 6, the review said.

The BBC has since apologised to the family, BBC Group chief operating officer Leigh Tavaziva said.

She said: “Although our existing processes and systems are, on the whole, working effectively, this review shows that we need to join them up better to ensure no matter how a non-editorial complaint comes into the BBC it is escalated swiftly, when needed, and dealt with by the right people.

“Where the review identifies process improvements we accept those in full, and we are delivering on an action plan with a number of enhancements already in place.

“The report identifies specific process shortcomings in the presenter case. The initial complaint in this case was not escalated quickly enough to senior management and we have apologised to the complainant for this.”

Huw Edwards
TRIC Awards 2023 Huw Edwards

After the story emerged last year, BBC director-general Tim Davie ordered a review to “assess how some complaints are red-flagged up the organisation”.

He also ordered an additional “factfinding investigation”.

The review, led by Ms Tavaziva and carried out by Deloitte, highlights failures in the complaints process, saying that the initial complaint about Edwards was not logged on the relevant case management system so could not be seen by senior figures.

There was also no documented process for contact and follow-ups with the complainant, so when attempts to make contact were unsuccessful, the course of action was not clear.

Tim Davie
BBC Director General Tim Davie

The report says: “The case was not logged on the incumbent case management system (Perspective) contemporaneously, meaning that there was no opportunity for wider visibility of the case within the BBC; and there was no documented process for contact with the complainant and/or follow-up, such that when initial attempts to contact the complainant were unsuccessful, the steps to be taken were not sufficiently clear and the process followed was not documented.”

The report also said that some employees interviewed said they would feel nervous about raising a complaint with the BBC, particularly if it was about a more senior member of staff or a high profile figure.

It said: “These employees said they have lower levels of confidence in how robustly the complaint will be handled if it is a grievance relating to another member of staff or talent, particularly where there is an actual or perceived power discrepancy between the complainant and the subject of the complaint.”

The report added there is a need for “greater consistency across teams in how non-editorial complaints are dealt with, regardless of the route by which they are received and then reviewed”.

It suggested “better use of technology to manage non-editorial complaints and work to ensure there is a complete picture of all cases across teams dealing with them; as well as work to ensure sufficient resources across specialist teams dealing with non-editorial complaints, to manage the workload in a timely manner without impacting on staff welfare.”

In a letter to BBC News, the young person at the centre of the Edwards controversy said via lawyers nothing inappropriate or unlawful happened with the-then unnamed presenter.

Edwards has been absent from screens since the story first broke and his wife previously said he was receiving in-patient hospital care and was suffering “serious mental health issues”.