Farrukh Dhondy | A sordid tale in UK as top BBC presenter lands in huge scandal

The Asian Age.  | Farrukh Dhondy

Opinion, Columnists

The story that emerges is a sordid, perhaps pitiable one.

Huw Edwards. (Photo: Twitter)

“The heart is merely a muscle

It cannot be broken

But lovers say it can

To feel its pain as a token

Of the suffering that’s caused

When continuity breaks

Through jealousy, betrayal

Or emotional earthquakes…”

From Khali Pilee Bom, by Bachchoo

Huw Edwards, the chief and respected presenter of the BBC’s flagship Ten O’clock News, a singular summary of the world each day, is now reported to be in a mental health institution. He was suspended from his duties on Sunday, July 9, and was absent from the programme for the next few days as the result of a national scandal that has preoccupied Britain for the past week.

For five days the dramatis personae involved remained anonymous and now only Huw Edwards’ identity has been revealed by his wife who said her husband has suffered for 20 years under stress and depression. His shameful acts, she said, are the products of this sad mental state.

Edwards has been, gentle reader, the most respected celebrity presenter on the national broadcaster and I have watched his presentation admiringly for decades. Now it’s all over for him and I’m sorry.

The story that emerges is a sordid, perhaps pitiable one. Let me recall it:

At the end of last week, The Sun newspaper, a scandal sheet of the yellow press, broke a story that could further its constant preoccupation with attacking the BBC. The story caused national intrigue. The people involved weren’t named by The Sun, which only said that a prominent BBC presenter was involved in soliciting lewd pornographic pictures from a young person, whose gender was not specified, and that this presenter had paid the young person £35,000 over the years. The mother of the young person, concerned that this “victim” had used the money to become a crack cocaine addict, lodged a complaint with the relevant BBC department. The Sun reported the date of the complaint and implied that the BBC was complacent about it as it had not dismissed or suspended the presenter.

When the story was published and picked up by other newspapers and reported by the BBC itself, Edwards was suspended, pending a BBC investigation, even though his name didn’t appear in the reports.

When the BBC announced that the unnamed presenter had been suspended and so would not appear on his programme, scores of BBC radio and TV presenters who happened to be on holiday, reasonably concluded that their absence would cause listeners or viewers to conclude that they were the suspended, alleged offender. Several of them scrambled to deny that they were -- on their Twitter, etc, accounts and some even reached for their lawyers and publicists to say “It’s not me, I swear!”

A radio presenter called Jeremy Vine gave a TV interview which called on the unnamed presenter to “out” himself so as to stop, out of decency and compassion, the speculation about other colleagues of his being the suspects in his case.

Then things, gentle reader, get curiouser and curiouser. A lawyer who was representing the young person involved told the media and the BBC that the whole story was rubbish and no such exchange of money and photographs took place. The parents of the alleged “model” insist that they have passed solid evidence to the contrary to The Sun.

And then more emerges.

Another young individual, again age and gender unspecified, tells the media that he or she was approached on a dating app by the same presenter who at first didn’t identify himself, then proposed meeting and, when he did identify himself and amazed his contact who might have revealed his identity, the presenter abused and threatened this potential date.

The threatened party assured the media that the threats were scary.

The BBC said it couldn’t reveal the presenter’s identity for legal reasons, but on Wednesday, after five days of scandal and news turmoil and speculation, Huw Edwards’ wife identified him as the presenter in question.

What is amusing is that The Sun, till 2015, used to run a famous “Page 3” on which it featured nude women and, before the 2003 law which made the publication or exchange of lewd photographs of people under 18 illegal, featured 16-year-olds in nude poses with double-entendre captions. Today they are all coy about the BBC presenter allegedly paying for dirty photographs.

More amusing is that The Sun, a dedicated enemy of “woke” culture and an opponent of gender-neutral language which proposes substituting “they” for “he” and “she”, has now had to resort to “they” to refer to the story’s “victims”. Ho ho ho!

This may be one story in which such a pronoun is appropriate and the head-banging Tories who support the politics of The Sun and its attack on the BBC and on “wokeism”, must now, albeit reluctantly, swallow their own vomit.

Gentle reader, I am firmly for the use of the original gender pronouns, but profess myself entertained by the boobies who write, for instance in the right-wing Spectator magazine, that this call by the wokeists for changing “he” and “she” to “they” spells the end of civilisation. Oh dear!

The police have concluded that there is no criminal case for Edwards to answer. The BBC says that it is continuing its “investigation”. They did employ, in a central broadcasting role, an individual who suffered from extreme depression giving rise to deviant behaviour. Heads to roll?