This article originally appeared in our Elevenses newsletter.
Good afternoon. The wife of newsreader Huw Edwards has said he is receiving in-patient hospital care as she named him as the BBC presenter facing allegations over payments for sexually explicit images. Vicky Flind said her husband was “suffering from serious mental health issues” and was now receiving treatment in a statement issued on Wednesday evening. It comes as the Metropolitan Police said no criminal offence had been committed by Edwards and that no further police action would be taken “at this time”.
The statement from the Met has raised eyebrows about the origins of the story, which was first published in The Sun on Saturday. In its initial reporting, the tabloid said that Edwards had paid a 17-year-old for explicit images, suggesting there was some sort of illegality in the matter. But it backtracked after the young person in question, now an adult in their twenties, issued a statement through their lawyer calling the allegations “rubbish” and insisting they’d even approached the tabloid prior to publication telling them that the story was wrong. Of course, the newspaper failed to flag this denial in any of its reporting and has since blamed other media outlets for misinterpreting the story, leading to the police getting involved and a social media circus unfolding.
Quite how a story that had established no wrongdoing from the get-go managed to spark the reaction it did is anyone’s guess, but it certainly wasn’t hindered by the GB News presenter/ part-time politician Lee Anderson who branded the BBC a “safe haven for perverts”, nor by the chancellor Jeremy Hunt when he seemingly defended the deputy chairman’s moronic (Jon Sopel’s words not mine) comments. Rod Liddle even had the gall to defend The Sun’s “impeccable” behaviour on Newsnight despite having previously said himself that the one thing stopping him from becoming a teacher was that he “could not remotely conceive of not trying to shag the kids”.
But I want to raise a point here about consent. It has been said in the past that one of the major drivers behind the rise of reality TV stars is that, unlike conventional celebrities, they feed off the air of publicity and actually welcome a degree of intrusion into their lives as part of an invisible contract they sign into with the media. If the Kardashians didn’t leak every detail of their lives to the press then they would just be a wealthy family living in LA. If Joey Essex didn’t do the same he’d be nothing more than an Essex wideboy with an unhealthy addiction to teeth whitening, and likewise for those of a similar ilk living in Chelsea, Cheshire and Newcastle.
For those guys, a degree of media intrusion is their bread and butter and it is often considered as such. I can remember watching Imogen Thomas, of Big Brother fame, speak out about this in 2011 when she said: “I believe when a reality star opens their doors to the extent that they do, they cannot complain the next day if something bad is written about them”. And I sort of agree with her on that.
The difference with Huw Edwards is that he never asked for any of this, and to suggest that it is part of his contract as a newsreader to allow those watching into his private life too is so bleak it is almost worthy of a Black Mirror episode.
Sign up to Elevenses for free here: www.thelondoneconomic.com/newsletter