The BBC have revealed that a number of complaints have been filed against Tim Westwood, including one that was also referred to the police. This comes following the BBC’s previous claims that they were unaware of any concerns regarding the DJ’s conduct.
The broadcasting corporation has now explained that six complaints against Westwood are being reviewed, including some from a number of years ago. This has raised serious questions about the BBC’s previous public statement after the Guardian and BBC published a joint investigation on April 26th.
The investigation published laid out allegations of sexual misconduct by the former Radio 1 DJ, which he denied, prompting further statements from the director-general, Tim Davie.
The day after the initial report was issued, Davie said he had “seen no evidence of complaints”. But in later developments, the BBC has now confirmed the reception of six such complaints, which it is assessing as part of a review it launched into Westwood’s 19-year career with the BBC.
Via the Guardian, some of the complaints in question were from a number of years ago and were included in BBC files, while others had been made after the publication of the story.
The complaint that had been referred to the police was filed prior to the initial report and did not relate to an allegation of physical assault. The police declined to comment on whether they had received or how they had handled the referral. In a statement to the Guardian, the BBC said Davie had “set out the position as he understood it at the time”.
Back in April, the Guardian published testimony from seven women who made allegations of sexual misconduct against the DJ. They claimed that he abused his position within the industry to take advantage of them.
Subsequently, Westwood has denied all of the allegations made against him, with his spokesperson saying there had never been any complaints against him “officially or unofficially”.
The new developments emerged after BBC News complained about the corporation’s response to a freedom of information (FoI) request as part of the Guardian/BBC joint investigation earlier in the year.
The renewed pressure has now fallen upon the six complaints that fall within the period 1994-2013 when Westwood was employed at the BBC. In a statement, the BBC explained that some of the allegations related to incidents within the BBC while others related to his actions outside the corporation.
“We are aware that one of these complaints was referred to police, and Mr Westwood was spoken to in relation to another complaint,” the BBC confirmed.
“We are not aware what further action was taken at this stage. As a result of this, we are looking into what action was taken at the time.”
Asked to elaborate, a BBC spokesperson reaffirmed the internal inquiry was ongoing. “As we have said, if people have things that they want to raise with the BBC, then they should do so. People have now done so, and we will continue to investigate. We also said that we would dig into what happened in the past. We are doing that with great care. All of that work hasn’t concluded and is ongoing. We said we would take this seriously, and we are. When that work has concluded, we will say more.”
Regarding the incident that was referred to the police, the spokesperson added: “This is a historic case that the BBC has found in its files. We are establishing the facts around it. It did not relate to conduct at the BBC, BBC premises, or conduct towards a BBC staff member, nor was it an accusation of physical assault.” The police give no further details, and it is unclear whether Westwood was made aware of the referral at the time.
The BBC volunteered the new information following a challenge from the BBC News journalist Chi Chi Izundu regarding the corporation’s handling of an initial FoI request last year.
At that point, the corporation refused to submit any information regarding Westwood and didn’t reveal whether it held any information regarding Westwood’s conduct.
The more recent response stated that the BBC’s stance had changed after the publication of the investigation in April, which included the broadcast of the BBC Three programme Tim Westwood: Abuse of Power. Following these developments, a spokesperson for the BBC stated: “The BBC is against all forms of inappropriate behaviour, and we are shocked to hear of these allegations. The BBC has strict codes of conduct for all those engaged by the BBC, including on-air presenters.”
Meanwhile, Davie, who was head of radio output while Westwood was the coordinator and presenter of rap and hip-hop output on Radio 1, said: “It is shocking, and the testimony of the women is powerful and appalling. I credit the BBC and Guardian teams for going after the story.”
When asked whether the BBC had any records of formal complaints about Westwood, he replied: “I’ve seen no evidence of complaints. I’ve asked, and we looked at our records, and we’ve seen no evidence.”
“Every complaint has to be taken seriously. If anything comes up, we will investigate it fully. If people have evidence where things weren’t followed up or they have concern in this area bring it to us … we will follow up anything and we will dig and dig and dig. If people have got evidence of wrongdoing we need to bring it forward.”
Following the investigation published in April, Westwood’s lawyers asserted that the allegations were false and that he was a well-respected and highly-professional DJ: “Any suggestion that he acts, or has acted, in the way described would be false and seriously defamatory.”
After publication, a spokesperson for Westwood added: “Tim Westwood strongly denies all allegations of inappropriate behaviour. 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.”
As yet, Westwood has declined to submit a direct comment on the ongoing investigations.