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BBC director general: Tim Westwood allegations are powerful and appalling

Tim Westwood (Ian West/PA)
Tim Westwood (Ian West/PA)

BBC director general Tim Davie has said the allegations made against Tim Westwood are “shocking” and the claims made by the women are “powerful and appalling”, but he has seen “no evidence of complaints” from the DJ’s time at the corporation.

The veteran hip hop DJ and radio presenter, who left BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra in 2013 after nearly 20 years, has been accused of sexual misconduct and predatory behaviour by several women.

A representative said Westwood “strongly rejects all allegations of wrongdoing”.

In allegations made to the BBC and the Guardian, Westwood, 64, is alleged to have misused his position in the music industry to take advantage of seven women who were in their late teens or early 20s at the time.

BBC Director General
Tim Davie (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The allegations were detailed in a BBC Three documentary, Tim Westwood: Abuse of Power, which aired on Tuesday evening.

Asked at the Voice of the Listener & Viewer spring conference about the possibility that complaints to the BBC about Westwood were ignored due a lack of diversity, Davie said of the documentary: “It is shocking, and the testimony of the women is powerful and appalling.

“By the way, I credit the BBC and Guardian teams for going after the story. I think that that’s absolutely what we should be doing.

“I’ve seen no evidence of complaints. I’ve asked and we looked at our records and we’ve seen no evidence.”

He added: “I do think now we’re in a position where we’re very clear on culture, which is every complaint has to be taken seriously. If something like this were raised or anything comes up, we investigate it fully. And I would hope we were doing that in that time as well.

“I would simply say if people have evidence where things weren’t followed up, or they have concern in this area, bring it to us. We want to investigate it.”

He continued: “The one thing I know is you have to look at yourself and say: ‘Did I know anything?’ and in this case, I’ve seen no evidence that I did, but we will follow up anything and we’ll dig and dig and dig.

The Global Awards 2020 with – Arrivals – London
Tim Westwood (Lia Toby/PA)

“It’s shocking to see those testimonies. But more generally, if people have got evidence of wrongdoing, absolutely, we need to bring it forward.

“A truly inclusive workforce means that people feel confident to speak up, talk, raise things, there’s no fear in the environment. I think all corporations have to work really hard to create that environment.

“People know I’m passionate about it and I hope at the BBC all the work we’re doing on values, if you’re a senior leader now you’re assessed on: do you facilitate getting diversity of view, how happy your staff are.

“This is all critical to create an environment where it becomes completely unacceptable to behave in certain ways. But also, things get raised quickly and dealt with, there has to be a trust.”

Asked about the privileges that come with being talent at the BBC and if the corporation has a special responsibility to be proactive, Davie said: “I think we are doing things proactively. And I think any environment in which power can be abused is one you have to worry about.

“This is a weird business and you’ve got the power of the talent often at the ground level, frontline, then you’ve got people like myself as executives, but all organisations have power residing in different places and there’s nothing worse in life than abuse of power.

“It’s about values, about setting the right culture, it’s about putting the right leaders in place. I think we’ve had this across all the industry, where you need to be absolutely clear this is completely unacceptable, and also create a very trusted process in terms of whistleblowing.

“That is something we’re working on, I’m very vocal on it. The processes are good, we have to keep building confidence.”

Three women have accused the DJ of opportunistic and predatory sexual behaviour, while four others allege they were groped by him at events, according to the Guardian.

A statement from Westwood’s representative to the PA news agency on Tuesday 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.”

Westwood was due to appear at a number of events over the next month but the listings have disappeared from his website.

An appearance at the Empire in Bedford, which was due to take place on April 29, has been scrapped and a statement from his management shared on Instagram says: “In light of the allegations, this event has been cancelled.

“Tim Westwood denies all allegations of wrongdoing.

“Apologies for inconvenience this may cause to your bank holiday weekend.”