A BBC radio presenter allowed a phone-in caller to discuss having sex with young children and to claim his victims had enjoyed being abused.
Allan Beswick, host of the Late Night Phone-In programme on BBC Radio Manchester and BBC Radio Lancashire, engaged in conversation with the man – who said he was calling from prison – for four-and-a-half minutes without cutting him off.
Listeners were horrified to hear the man repeat details of his alleged crimes and to argue that DVDs of “child sex” should be supplied to adults as a substitute for them abusing children.
The BBC Trust launched an immediate investigation after the incident on March 1.
In a damning ruling, the Trust’s editorial standards committee said the programme was a serious breach of BBC guidelines – on harm and offence, reporting crime, and protecting the victims of sexual offences.
“Trustees were deeply troubled by this incident, which they considered showed a grave lack of judgement by the presenter and a serious failure to follow the programme’s protocols.”
The caller “had been given the opportunity to put forward justification for the most serious and distressing of crimes without adequate challenge”, the Trust’s report said.
However, Beswick has not been suspended. Instead, the offending conversation was withdrawn from iPlayer and he made an apology on his programme the following night.
BBC management said Beswick “appeared to have failed to think clearly in the heat of the moment”.
The initial call to Beswick’s 10pm show came through to a trainee call handler. The man said he wished to talk about paedophiles and sex with children, a topic that had been discussed on air the previous night following comments from a chief constable about the issue.