The BBC has registered a sudden increase in complaints of sexual harassment, with 25 alleged cases currently under investigation, the pubcaster’s No. 2 official said Tuesday.
Deputy Director General Anne Bulford told members of Parliament that the BBC had recently seen “a spike” in allegations of sexual harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. More cases are currently under investigation by the organization than at any time in the last three years.
Few of the complaints have been made public. But one of the cases under review involves presenter George Riley, who covers big sports events on both radio and television for the BBC. Eight complaints were reportedly made against Riley, who has been suspended while an internal investigation proceeds.
The BBC is no stranger to sex scandals. Revelations that the late presenter Jimmy Savile molested hundreds of people — including children – over decades, at times on BBC premises, shocked the nation and led to an existential crisis for the broadcaster and a change in leadership. Director General Tony Hall, who took over the top job in 2013, publicly apologized to Savile’s victims last year.
Bulford said that in 2013-14, there were 80 reported cases of bullying and harassment at the BBC, not all of which were of a sexual nature. About 40 cases were reported in each of the last two years.
“I think we have to deal with cases as they come up and continue to encourage people to speak,” Bulford was quoted as telling the parliamentary committee on media and culture Tuesday. “Whether they are current or historic in relation to sexual harassment, the important thing is [that] people come forward.”
A BBC spokesperson added: “Since the Harvey Weinstein revelations we’ve been actively encouraging staff to come forward with any concerns. We hope other employers are doing the same, and when allegations are made, we have well-established processes to investigate.”
(Pictured: BBC’s Tony Hall)