As more household names come out in support of disgraced presenter, Huw Edwards, who was honoured by the Queen yet venerated by some Welsh nationalists, our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry looks at how the memory of controversial events fade with time, but that people need to be reminded of them.
Earlier Phil has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.
He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.
Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge ofhistory and teaching the subject is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.
He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting.
It is fascinating to watch how past scandals are apparently air-brushed away, and we are seeing exactly this happening with Huw Edwards, as yet another star comes out to support him.
The former political correspondent John Sergeant, who famously collared Margaret Thatcher with a microphone outside the Paris embassy when she declared that she would contest the next Tory leadership ballot although she had clearly lost, and was a Strictly Come Dancing contestant, told GB News: “He (Mr Edwards) was an extremely talented man…this is devastating? I’ve heard from some people that he’s just very cross. Very cross about the way he was treated, very cross about what’s happened.”
Mr Sergeant joins ranks which are apparently swelling. At the time Mr Edwards’ behaviour hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in July, the former BBC correspondent, Jon Sopel said: “This is an awful and shocking episode, where there was no criminality, but perhaps a complicated private life…I wish @thehuwedwards well”. Dan Walker, Alastair Campbell, David Baddiel and Elizabeth Day were among those who sent support to “superb broadcaster” Mr Edwards after he was named as the BBC presenter at the centre of the furore.
Perhaps these people need to be reminded of why this furore happened in the first place.
On July 12, after days of speculation about who the presenter was who had been suspended for allegedly paying £35,000 to a teenager in exchange for sexually explicit images, Mr Edwards was outed by his wife.
A news item on the BBC stated: “Vicky Flind, the wife of news reader Huw Edwards, has named him as the BBC presenter facing allegations over payments for sexually explicit images in a statement issued on his behalf”.
Harmful claims then emerged about Mr Edwards’ actions generally at the BBC, but MailOnline said that senior executives “moaned” about missing Wimbledon and the Ashes to deal with them.
There have been accusations that apart from the main story involving one young person, others were involved too, and that the presenter broke Covid-19 lockdown rules to meet one of them.
It has been claimed that Mr Edwards sent ‘menacing’ texts to one individual, and further allegations emerged following the original ones made in The Sun (the paper said it had a dossier of his alleged activities, but has chosen not to publish).
He was also accused of sending inappropriate messages to BBC employees.
According to Newsnight, one current staff member claimed they were contacted on social media by him, and the messages left them feeling uncomfortable as well as awkward.
The messages were reportedly suggestive in nature, appeared to be flirtatious, and referred to the appearance of Mr Edwards’ colleague. “There is a power dynamic that makes this inappropriate”, the staff member said.
Another BBC employee alleged that Mr Edwards had also sent them a private message on social media which commented, too, on their appearance and gave them a “cold shudder”.
Mr Edwards was the BBC’s most well paid newsreader in a pay bracket of £435,000 to £439,999 – putting him fourth on the top 10 list, the corporation’s annual report revealed – yet it has now all come crashing down, and Wales has featured prominently.
Mr Edwards is himself proudly Welsh (he is from Bridgend), and acting chairwoman, Dame Elan Closs Stephens, is also from Wales.