Inside hours of The Solar newspaper publishing allegations that Edwards paid a young person for sexual pictures, a high-ranking official all however ordered the BBC to analyze, based on emails obtained by Deadline underneath a Freedom of Data Act request.
The BBC is editorially and operationally impartial of the federal government and other people aware of the company’s governance mentioned it’s the job of the board, not ministers, to police points such because the Edwards firestorm.
This didn’t cease Robert Specterman-Inexperienced, the director of media for the Division for Digital, Tradition, Media & Sport (DCMS), from messaging BBC chief of workers Phil Harrold on Saturday, July 8, to set out the federal government’s expectations.
“Whereas recognising it is a matter for the BBC to handle, I needed to underline, on behalf of DCMS, our expectation that the BBC appears into this with urgency and proactively takes all vital and applicable steps,” Specterman-Inexperienced wrote.
He emailed earlier than the BBC board had gathered over Zoom for a rare assembly to debate the Edwards subject that Saturday. Harrold replied reassuring Specterman-Inexperienced that the BBC was taking the matter “very severely.”
A day later, tradition secretary Lucy Frazer launched an announcement saying she had spoken to BBC director basic Tim Davie concerning the “deeply regarding allegations.” She added that the broadcaster should be “given the house” to conduct its inquiries. Edwards was suspended later that day.
Emails between the DCMS and BBC present Frazer organized a least two additional telephone calls with Davie and BBC performing chair Elan Closs Stephens within the two days following her assertion.
A senior Conservative lawmaker advised Deadline that the federal government appeared to have overstepped a boundary when it intervened within the Edwards scandal.
“There’s a misplaced view amongst politicians who assume that when the BBC is underneath hearth like this, that one way or the other they need to get entangled immediately,” the Tory mentioned. “I don’t assume it was executed with malign intent however extra a form of naivety on the a part of the federal government; not understanding their function and the connection between them and the BBC.”
A former BBC journalist added that it was an “extraordinary” response and accused the federal government of “chasing hearth engines,” significantly because it was unclear if ministers had been conscious of Edwards’ id on the time officers first contacted the broadcaster.
In response, the DCMS stood by its actions, saying it was entitled to remind the BBC of its duties. “The BBC is operationally impartial of the federal government, and this was made clear in all our conversations with the broadcaster. At no level did officers or ministers instruct the BBC to analyze this matter,” a spokesperson mentioned.
The BBC mentioned: “The easy truth is that the BBC was already investigating; because the details present, it didn’t want prompting to take action by the federal government.”
Baroness Stowell, chair of the influential Lords Communications and Digital Committee, questioned Frazer about her intervention throughout a listening to in September. Stowell claimed it was not “normal” for the federal government to keep up a correspondence with the director basic over a BBC operational matter. “That was a really critical subject and it was essential that the federal government made its views recognized,” Frazer replied.
Edwards In Talks Over Future
Little has been written about Edwards after he was recognized by his spouse, Vicky Flind, in an announcement revealing that he had been hospitalized with critical psychological well being points. Edwards has not commented on the saga, which police mentioned didn’t meet the brink for investigation.
Almost 5 months on, BBC sources have advised Deadline that Edwards is in talks over his future amid a widespread feeling on the company that it will likely be tough to revive him from suspension. Deadline has beforehand reported on how the BBC is giving thought to election night time protection with out Edwards.
Three folks mentioned Edwards had been offered with the proof of a “fact-finding” evaluation into his conduct and his exit was being negotiated. “He’s out,” mentioned one senior BBC insider. “I haven’t seen the report however know there’s no manner again.”
The evaluation, which the BBC has by no means described as a full-blown investigation, has been tightly managed and it’s unclear what, if something, has been found about Edwards or if he’s difficult the findings.
In addition to allegedly paying a young person for intercourse pictures, The Solar revealed further claims about Edwards breaking Covid lockdown guidelines to satisfy somebody from a courting web site. BBC Information reported accusations he despatched menacing messages to a 3rd younger particular person. Newsnight additionally alleged that Edwards despatched “suggestive” messages to junior BBC staff, together with feedback about their look.
A BBC spokesperson mentioned: “As we’ve beforehand defined, we won’t present a commentary on what’s an inside employment course of and we might urge folks to not take pleasure in hypothesis.”
Edwards and his lawyer didn’t reply to requests for remark.
The BBC’s exchanges with the federal government over Edwards aren’t the primary time the company’s independence has been known as into query throughout a scandal. Deadline revealed in June that BBC director basic Davie was involved with a senior authorities official on the day he suspended Gary Lineker, elevating questions on whether or not he was pressured to punish the presenter for breaking impartiality guidelines.