BBC admits failures to probe DJ sexual misconduct claims

Friday, 05 Aug 2022 8:11 AM MYT

LONDON, Aug 5 — The BBC on Thursday admitted failures to log and follow up claims of sexual misconduct against a veteran DJ, Tim Westwood, following recent allegations against him.

The matter is particularly sensitive for the publicly funded broadcaster after it failed to properly investigate claims against predatory sex offender Jimmy Savile, a BBC DJ and TV host for decades, the scale of whose crimes only emerged after his death in 2011.

Several women spoke to the BBC and the Guardian newspaper in April, accusing Westwood, a 64-year-old hip-hop DJ, of predatory sexual behaviour and groping.

The BBC on Thursday published an update on its subsequent internal review, sparked by the claims.

It said it “is clear that further investigation is appropriate” and it had contacted police and appointed an independent barrister to lead a review.

Westwood strongly denied the claims in April and said no complaints had ever been made against him, which the BBC director-general Tim Davie endorsed at the time.

The broadcaster said it had received new information alleging misconduct including sexual assault by Westwood, some relating to the period when he worked for the BBC, between 1994 and 2013, but also dating back to the 1980s.

It conceded the BBC had previously received a number of complaints against Westwood but said Davie was unaware of them when the news broke in April because of problems with archive searches.

The BBC said its probe found that “two allegations of inappropriate behaviour and sexual misconduct” were made against Westwood in 2012, a year after Savile’s death — when it had set up logs to record such claims and was carrying out independent reviews.

These concerned “inappropriate sexual remarks” to a 15-year-old girl at a non-BBC event, and a press enquiry about a “rumour of sexual misconduct”.

The BBC said the first claim was passed to police, who took no action, but it was unclear whether the second claim was reported to police.

The BBC added it found two internal complaints against Westwood, made in 2011 and 2012, over “sexualised and inappropriate comments” and a “toxic atmosphere”.

Following the April media reports on Westwood, the BBC said it received information on four further allegations, three of sexual assault. Two of these allegedly took place in the 1980s.

A member of the BBC’s governing body, Nicolas Serota, was quoted as saying: “I believe that there may have been occasions in the past when the BBC should have further explored issues that were being raised.” — AFP