The BBC inquiry into allegations that a presenter paid tens of thousands of pounds for explicit photos has been put on hold while police investigate.
BBC director general Tim Davie, facing the media on Tuesday for a scheduled briefing after the release of the corporation's annual report, was questioned about the “complex and difficult” presenter row in which the broadcaster is embroiled.
The BBC has been asked to pause its investigation into allegations one of its presenters paid a teenager for explicit images “while the police scope future work” following a meeting with the Metropolitan Police, the corporation said.
The broadcaster has been criticised for its handling of an allegation. It suspended a male employee after The Sun newspaper published the claims.
Mr Davie said he has asked the corporation’s chief operating officer to assess whether company protocols and procedures were “appropriate” in light of the allegations.
“This is clearly a complex and difficult situation where we need to manage a number of factors – properly responding to serious allegations, sensitively managing duty of care issues, appropriately respecting the privacy of individuals and justified public interest,” Mr Davie said.
“We do believe we are navigating these responsibly and judicially but we recognise it's not easy to do so.
“We know that questions have been asked how this case was initially managed and the timeline of events, so today we have published an update that sets out key dates and further detail.
“The BBC has processes and protocols for receiving information and managing allegations when they are made," he added. "We always take these matters seriously and seek to manage them with care.
“The events of recent days have shown how complex and challenging these kinds of cases can be and how vital it is they are handled with the utmost diligence.
“That is why it is important that we ensure these processes are robust and working appropriately."
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, meanwhile, said he had been assured the claims would be investigated “swiftly and rigorously”.
“They were shocking, concerning allegations, of course they were,” he said. “The Culture Secretary [Lucy Frazer[ spoke to the director general, I think it was on Sunday.
“And he has reassured [us] that the process they are undertaking is vigorous and will be swift, so we've had those reassurances.”
In an interview with The Sun on Monday, the mother and stepfather who made the claims said they “stand by” their allegations.
The teenager at the centre of the controversy has said nothing inappropriate or illegal happened with the unidentified male presenter and that the allegations were “rubbish”, their lawyer said in a letter.
A spokesman for The Sun said: “We have reported a story about two very concerned parents who made a complaint to the BBC about the behaviour of a presenter and the welfare of their child. Their complaint was not acted upon by the BBC.
“We have seen evidence that supports their concerns. It's now for the BBC to properly investigate.”
Ofcom chairman Lord Grade played down suggestions the family could use the watchdog to pursue a complaint.
"Unless it was a specific programme complaint, a content complaint or a complaint that the BBC had somehow breached its charter … then obviously we would look at it but I don’t see us getting involved in this one way or another,” he said.
“It is for the board of the BBC to take full responsibility for this present crisis.”
Several famous BBC figures have publicly stated they are not the presenter in question amid heavy speculation over the identity on social media.
The BBC has been asked to pause its investigation into allegations one of its presenters paid a teenager for explicit images “while the police scope future work” following a meeting with the Metropolitan Police, the corporation has said.
The BBC report, which Mr Davie was scheduled to discuss, is an assessment of the broadcaster's performance over the past 12 months.
It typically reveals the remuneration of the corporation's biggest earners, with Mr Davie also expected to answer questions about stars' pay packets.