Now the BBC must face another inquest about its safeguarding policies

28th April, 2022 6:05 am

Broadcaster facing renewed questions over whistleblowing procedures for its staff amid allegations against Tim Westwood.

Accusations of sexual misconduct levelled at Tim Westwood while he was working for the BBC have left the broadcaster facing yet another reckoning over whether its safeguarding and whistleblowing procedures are trusted by its staff.

Out of the seven women who made claims about the DJ’s behaviour, five say it took place while Westwood was working for the national broadcaster.

Although none of the allegations relate to incidents that took place on BBC premises, several women suggest the presenter used his position as the highly influential host of the Radio 1 Rap Show to approach them.

Yet none of the individuals made a formal complaint to the broadcaster about his behaviour.

As a result, just as BBC director general Tim Davie is trying to modernise the broadcaster, he once again finds himself having to look backwards.

Uncomfortably for him, Davie was in charge of the BBC’s radio division between 2008 and 2012, when Westwood was coming to the end of a 20-year stint with the broadcaster – and when some of the alleged incidents took place.

Speaking at a media conference on Wednesday, Davie said the BBC has not found any records of formal complaints about the presenter’s behaviour – although it is now urging anyone to come forward with their concerns.

He said an issue with media organisations is the way that power can reside both with the senior executives and also with the on-air individuals who present the output: “All organisations have power residing in different places and there’s nothing worse in life than abuse of power.”

Davie has already gained much experience of dealing with whistleblowing issues at the BBC, having briefly served as acting director general in 2012 during the crisis caused by the decision to cancel an investigation that could have exposed Jimmy Savile as one of Britain’s most prolific paedophiles.

Last year, in the wake of the scandal over how Martin Bashir used doctored financial records to obtain an interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, he again emphasised a beefing-up of the corporation’s whistleblowing protections and pledged to create a work culture where staff felt able to formally register their concerns.

The revelations of the investigation into Westwood’s behaviour also pose questions for commercial media company Global, which has provided Westwood with a show on its Capital Xtra for the last nine years.

In 2020 the media company was approached about concerns raised by anonymous accounts on social media but – accompanied by denials from the presenter – backed him for another two years, before dropping the host on Wednesday.

Westwood has strenuously denied all the allegations against him. A spokesperson for him said: “In a career that has spanned 40 years, there have never been any complaints made against him officially or unofficially. Tim Westwood strongly rejects all allegations of wrongdoing.”

Source: The Guardian

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