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BBC confirms it received complaints against DJ Tim Westwood prior to April documentary

By | Published on Tuesday 5 July 2022

Tim Westwood

The BBC has revealed that it is now aware of six formal complaints accusing DJ Tim Westwood of inappropriate behaviour while he was working for the broadcaster, one of which resulted in management speaking to the presenter, and one of which was referred to the police.

Back in April, seven women made allegations of sexual misconduct against Westwood in a BBC Three documentary that followed a joint investigation by BBC News and The Guardian. That resulted in Westwood stepping down from Capital Xtra, the station where he was then presenting shows.

Three of the accusers said that, after they agreed to meet with the DJ to discuss their careers in music, he had pressured them into sex. The other four said Westwood had groped them as they posed for photographs at events.

Responding to those allegations at the time, BBC boss Tim Davie – who previously headed up the Corporation’s radio output while Westwood was still working for Radio 1 and 1Xtra – said the allegations were “shocking” and “appalling”. But, he added, he was not aware of any formal complaints having been made against Westwood while the DJ was presenting shows for the BBC.

The BBC Director General told The Guardian: “I’ve seen no evidence of [earlier] complaints [to the BBC]. 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”.

However, while some of the six formal complaints that were confirmed yesterday have been made since the airing of the BBC Three documentary, some seemingly pre-date the programme and were found in the BBC’s files. That includes the complaint that led to BBC execs speaking to the DJ and the one that was referred to the police.

In terms of that latter complaint, the broadcaster hasn’t given much information regarding what it specifically involved or why bosses felt it should be passed on to the police, except to say: “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”.

Across the six complaints, a BBC spokesperson has confirmed, Westwood was accused of bullying and sexual misconduct, with some of the alleged incidents occurring outside of the BBC itself.

The Corporation now has its own investigation underway regarding the allegations made against Westwood – and what, if anything, BBC management knew of those allegations at the time they were made – and the spokesperson said that more information regarding the specifics of the complaints might be made public once the investigation is complete.

The new information regarding past complaints against Westwood comes after one of the BBC’s own journalists, Chi Chi Izundu, challenged the Corporation’s response to a freedom of information request that was made by BBC News and The Guardian last year in relation to their joint investigation.

As a publicly funded organisation, the BBC is subject to the Freedom Of Information Act. However, it initially declined to say anything about Westwood, and refused to confirm or deny whether it had any information regarding the DJ’s past conduct in its files. The BBC’s position seemingly changed following the airing of the documentary in April.

Regarding Davie’s comments following the broadcast of that programme – to the effect that he wasn’t aware of any previous complaints – the BBC has said that the Director General was simply setting out the Corporation’s position as he understood it at the time. The DG’s April statement did also encourage anyone with new information regarding the Westwood allegations to come forward, adding “we will follow up anything and we will dig and dig and dig”.

Noting that, the BBC’s spokesperson added yesterday: “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”.

For his part, Westwood continues to deny all the allegations that have been made against him. In a statement issued in April, a rep for the DJ said: “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”.