UK

BBC should ‘stand up for itself more,’ Blair says amid Huw Edwards furore

The BBC should “stand up for itself” amid the furore surrounding allegations against Huw Edwards, Sir Tony Blair said as the corporation’s leadership face questions in Parliament about the story (PA)
The BBC should “stand up for itself” amid the furore surrounding allegations against Huw Edwards, Sir Tony Blair said as the corporation’s leadership face questions in Parliament about the story (PA)

The BBC should “stand up for itself more” amid the furore following allegations made against Huw Edwards, Sir Tony Blair has suggested as the corporation’s leadership faces questions in Parliament about the story.

The former prime minister expressed his support for the “important British institution” in an interview with Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.

The corporation faced a crisis last week after The Sun newspaper reported allegations a then-unnamed top newsreader paid a teenager for sexually explicit images.

BBC presenter explicit photos allegations
Huw Edwards is in hospital receiving treatment for his mental health, his wife said in a statement (PA)

Edwards’ wife, Vicky Flind, later identified him as the man at the centre of the accusations and said he was receiving treatment in hospital for mental health issues.

Issues including “in light of recent events, what concerns have been raised about the adequacy of the BBC’s governance arrangements” will now be raised when BBC director-general Tim Davie and other senior figures appear at a pre-arranged Lords Communications Committee session on Tuesday.

Asked about the corporation’s response to the situation, Sir Tony said: “I think it’s a great British institution. And I… I mean, of course these things will hit them from time to time but I don’t think it means that the whole of the BBC is now a bad institution.

“And I think, you know, frankly, BBC should stand up for itself a bit more, to be blunt about it. And also, by the way, abroad the BBC is still regarded as an important British institution, and given our need to make sure we keep as much of a position of power in the world as we can, so whatever my disagreements from time to time, I still basically support it.”

Edwards faces no further action by police after Scotland Yard said there was no evidence of criminal offences, allowing an internal BBC investigation to resume.

In a statement issued to the PA news agency on Wednesday, Ms Flind said her husband was first told about the allegations against him last Thursday and “is now receiving in-patient hospital care where he’ll stay for the foreseeable future”.

The Sun said it has no plans to publish further claims and will co-operate with the corporation’s internal probe.

On Wednesday, BBC Newsnight reported new claims from one current and one former BBC worker, who said they got “inappropriate messages” from Edwards, “some late at night and signed off with kisses”.

Following the family statement, Mr Davie said in a note to staff it is “important” work on the internal investigation continues, adding: “I want to be clear that in doing so we will follow due process.”

He said the corporation’s “immediate concern is our duty of care to all involved”.

In the days leading up to Edwards being identified publicly, BBC presenters including Gary Lineker, Rylan Clark, Nicky Campbell and Jeremy Vine were forced to deny being the unnamed presenter.

Edwards is the BBC’s highest-paid newsreader, with a pay bracket of £435,000–£439,999, putting him fourth on the top 10 list, the corporation’s annual report revealed on Tuesday.