Speaker warns MPs not to name BBC presenter in Commons after identity threats

Mel Stride will not name BBC presenter under parliamentary privilege

MPs have been warned off naming the BBC presenter at the heart of allegations about payments for sexually explicit images in the Commons.

The Speaker’s Office said parliamentary privilege – which grants legal immunities to MPs speaking in the House – should “always be used carefully” while “recognising that members do have the right to free speech in the chamber”.

Meanwhile, Cabinet minister Mel Stride said it would be “ill-advised” to name the star using parliamentary privilege. And Labour frontbencher Jonathan Ashworth insisted it would be unhelpful for MPs to reveal who the BBC presenter is in the House.

It comes as MPs are discussing whether to make a Commons intervention and name the male host to put an end to intense speculation over their identity.

READ MORE: BBC explicit pictures scandal presenter could be named in House of Commons

The Speaker’s Office said: “Privilege should always be used carefully, recognising that members do have the right to free speech in the chamber.”

Mr Stride admitted it is a personal decision but appeared to discourage fellow MPs from speaking out.

The Work and Pensions Secretary told Times Radio: “One has to respect the fact that I think it’s an individual decision of any member of Parliament as to whether they invoke parliamentary privilege and name somebody, but it is a privilege that should be used very rarely.

“And I think in this circumstance where we really don’t know many of the facts, those will only emerge through time.

“We, as a government, through the Secretary of State for Culture have been pushing through the director general of the BBC for that to be concluded as quickly as possible.

“But we don’t know those facts. And until we do, I think under those circumstances, it will be ill-advised to do that.”

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The shadow work and pensions secretary echoed Mr Stride that he would not use parliamentary privilege to reveal who the BBC presenter is.

Mr Ashworth told Sky News: “No I wouldn’t name him. I think it’s obviously a very sensitive, difficult story for the BBC. It’s development overnight which suggested there are some complications, some disputes, in versions of events.

“I think the most important thing is that this is thoroughly investigated, the BBC look into this properly, and they should be allowed to get on with that.

“I don’t think it’s helpful for politicians to be offering a running commentary or making statements in the House of Commons about who this person might be or not be.”

It comes after a former Cabinet minister said MPs are considering whether to use parliamentary privilege to end the speculation.

They told the Daily Mail: “There is a discussion going on about whether to name this individual. Parliamentary privilege has been used before to identify people who have tried to use injunctions to keep their names out of the press.

“The circumstances here are slightly different, but the issues are the same – do we have free speech in this country, or do we just accept a creeping privacy law made by judges, which parliament has never approved?”

The BBC has suspended a male member of staff after The Sun reported he paid a young person around £35,000 over three years, from the age of 17, for explicit images which were used to fund a crack cocaine addiction.

The family were said to have complained to the corporation in May but approached the newspaper after the star remained on air.

In the latest development, a lawyer representing the young person said the claim – made by their mother – was “rubbish”.

However, the mother and stepfather of the youngster stood by their allegation, The Sun reported.

Speculation on social media has prompted a number of high-profile BBC stars to come forward to state they are not the person in question.

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