Huw Edwards expected to be named BBC’s highest-paid newsreader despite scandal

Huw Edwards was suspended in July last year following allegations
Huw Edwards was suspended in July last year following allegations - ISABEL INFANTES/AFP

Huw Edwards is expected to be named as the BBC’s highest-earning newsreader almost a year on from the nude images scandal that took him off air.

Edwards was suspended by the broadcaster in July last year over a claim that he had paid £35,000 to a much younger man.

There is no suggestion he was under 18 when the money is said to have been paid.

Now details of his six-figure salary are set to be published in this summer’s annual report, which will come 12 months after he last appeared on screen.

According to The Times, BBC insiders are bracing themselves for a backlash to the report, as Edwards is expected to still be named as the corporation’s highest-paid newsreader, having earned up to £439,000 last year despite his suspension.

One fellow presenter told the newspaper that the continued payments to Edwards were “immoral” despite police not having taken any action against the presenter.

However, the BBC’s chief news presenter suffered a “serious episode” after The Sun published the revelations and it is understood that he remains too unwell to take part in the broadcaster’s investigation into the claims.

Edwards’s wife, Vicky Flind, eventually named her husband in a statement following the tabloid’s revelations, saying that he was being treated in hospital for “serious mental health issues”.

Details of conversations between lawyers for Edwards and the BBC are not known, but staff have expressed concern that an outcome will not be reached soon.

One senior staff member told The Times: “We have been in it for the long haul … Everything seems to just be stuck.”

A presenter added: “It’s terrible for the licence fee payer if Huw is earning so much but not working.

“The BBC is getting so much value for money from other people who are doing endless hours.”

Many are speculating that his pay disclosure in the annual report, which will include the salaries of all staff paid more than £178,000 for the 12 months to the end of March, will not “go down well”.

Edwards, who delivered the news of the late Queen’s death for the BBC, signed a three-year extension to his contract in March 2023, before the allegations.

Employment specialist lawyers have highlighted that the BBC has a duty of care to the presenter and that staff accused of wrongdoing have a right to be heard.

Edwards allegedly earnt up to £439,000 last year despite his suspension
Edwards allegedly earnt up to £439,000 last year despite his suspension - JAMES MANNING/PA

Paul Daniels, for Keystone Law, told The Times: “Imagine putting anyone, especially someone with a mental illness, in a position where they could be fired without ever even having a hearing.

“In some cases, a tribunal will say ‘enough is enough’ and rule that the employer cannot be expected to wait any more, but predicting whether it will do so is not easy.”

He added that dismissing him could prove too risky for the corporation because there could be “potential claims for unfair dismissal, disability discrimination and for breach of contract”.

“It’s a terrible conundrum that cries out for a holistic solution. The BBC obviously has to use public funds prudently but they are in a difficult situation here and there is no simple solution.”

If Edwards’s situation is not resolved before the looming anniversary, in July, and his full pay is being honoured by the BBC, then his name will continue to appear on the annual list.

One senior executive at the corporation maintained that the report is “still some way off” and that they want the situation “wrapped up as quickly as possible”.

In February, the BBC apologised to the family of the man at the centre of the scandal after a review found that the corporation mishandled their complaint.

An independent review, conducted by Deloitte, found that “the potential wider significance of this issue for the BBC was not recognised” by the corporate investigations team that received the complaint.

A BBC spokesman said: “As we have previously explained, we will not provide a commentary on what is an internal employment process and we would urge people not to indulge in speculation.”