By BRIAN MELLEY (Associated Press)
LONDON (AP) — There’s no evidence a BBC presenter who allegedly paid a teenager for sexually explicit photos committed a crime, London police said Wednesday as the broadcaster’s wife publicly identified him for the first time as veteran news anchor Huw Edwards.
Metropolitan police decided to take no further action after speaking with the alleged victim and that person’s parents. The parents told The Sun newspaper last week that the presenter had been allowed to remain on air after the mother complained to the BBC in May that he paid the youth 35,000 pounds ($45,000) starting in 2020 when the person was 17.
As the story topped the news in Britain all week and embroiled the BBC in scandal, speculation swirled about the identify of the presenter. Some of the BBC’s biggest on-air personalities publicly said it wasn’t them and others called on the unnamed presenter to come forward.
Edward’s wife, Vicky Flind, named her husband late Wednesday and said he was hospitalized with serious mental health issues.
After “five extremely difficult days for our family,” Flind said she was naming him “primarily out of concern for his mental well-being and to protect our children.”
“The events of the last few days have greatly worsened matters, he has suffered another serious episode and is now receiving in-patient hospital care where he’ll stay for the foreseeable future,” she said.
Edwards, 61, is one of Britain’s best-known and most authoritative news broadcasters, lead anchor on the BBC’s nighttime news and the face of its election coverage. He led BBC coverage of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in September. He’s among the broadcaster’s best-paid stars, with an annual salary of at least 435,000 pounds ($565,000).
The father of five said in a 2021 documentary that depression had left him bedridden for periods over two decades.
The BBC said it would continue its investigation into the matter.
The U.K.’s publicly funded national broadcaster had scrambled to deal with the crisis after the claims were first published by The Sun over the weekend. It said it became aware of a complaint in May but “new allegations were put to us on Thursday of a different nature.”
It did not name Edwards, but said it had suspended a male star over the allegations. He last appeared on air a week ago in Edinburgh for a special broadcast on Scottish celebrations of the coronation of King Charles III.
A lawyer representing the young person in question, who was not named, told the BBC earlier this week that “nothing inappropriate or unlawful has taken place between our client and the BBC personality.” The lawyer said the allegations reported in The Sun were “rubbish.”
The tabloid defended its reporting, saying that concerned parents had made a complaint to the BBC that had not been acted on.
The Metropolitan Police issued a statement Wednesday saying no further action would be taken.
“Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command have now concluded their assessment and have determined there is no information to indicate that a criminal offence has been committed,” the force said.
Though the age of sexual consent in Britain is 16, it is a crime to make or possess indecent images of anyone under 18.
Jon Sopel, the former BBC News North America editor, sent his best wishes to Edwards and his family.
“This is an awful and shocking episode, where there was no criminality, but perhaps a complicated private life,” Sopel tweeted. “That doesn’t feel very private now. I hope that will give some cause to reflect.”
The episode comes less than two months after commercial U.K. broadcaster ITV faced its own scandal when Phillip Schofield, a long-time host on the channel’s popular morning show, quit in May, admitting he had lied about an affair with a much younger colleague.
The BBC has been hit by several scandals involving its stars over the years, most notoriously when longtime children’s TV host Jimmy Savile was exposed after his death in 2011 as a pedophile who abused children and teens over several decades.
Associated Press Writer Jill Lawless contributed to this report.