Champions Cup: Marcus Smith stars as Harlequins thrash Cardiff, Exeter progress but Sale and Bristol lose

Harlequins’ Nick David in action against Cardiff

Harlequins took a giant stride towards progressing to the knockout stages of
the Champions Cup with a bonus-point victory over Cardiff in a thrilling game at
a sold-out Arms Park.

Cardiff competed fiercely in the first half hour but were then out-gunned by some exhilarating play from the visitors, who ran in eight tries in the 54-15 win.

Jack Walker, Will Evans, Andre Esterhuizen, Will Beard, Dillon Lewis, Fin Baxter, Tyrone Green and Marcus Smith all touched down for Quins.

England fly-half Smith converted seven of the tries in a personal points tally of 19.

Thomas Young scored two tries for Cardiff, with Tinus de Beer adding a penalty and a conversion.

Smith led out Quins on his 150th appearance for the club, but they were soon behind when De Beer kicked a fourth-minute penalty.

Early ferocity from Cardiff rattled their opponents and it resulted in a try for the Welsh region. Quins failed to deal with a well-judged cross-field kick from De Beer, with lock Seb Davies knocking the ball into the path of Young who raced 40 metres to the line.

Quins soon responded with a try from Walker after an unstoppable line-out drive, before Cardiff made two mistakes in quick succession to give the Londoners another attacking platform.

Willis Halaholo knocked on before De Beer lost substantial ground by kicking straight into touch. As a result, the visitors were able to win a penalty but they turned down a simple kick at goal in favour of more attacking options, however, it proved the wrong call.

The hosts suffered an injury blow when young full-back Cam Winnett was led off and failed an HIA, but they still led 8-7 at the end of a compelling first quarter.

Cardiff then produced a stunning second try. On the halfway line, they cleverly created for Harri Millard to make ground down the right flank before Tomos Williams was on hand to provide Young with his second try.

The English outfit reacted swiftly to score a try of equal merit. Quick hands and excellent ball-retention sucked in the defence leaving Esterhuizen with a 30-metre run-in.

The entertainment was now breathtaking as Quins looked in desperate trouble on their own line, but somehow Smith conjured up a gap to send Will Evans racing to near halfway. With men in support, Evans chose to kick as Tomos Williams was able to dash back and save the day.

However, Quins were not to be denied as a strong from Nick David set up a try for Evans before more incredible handling saw Beard just hold off a cover tackle from Mason Grady for the bonus point and a 28-15 half-time lead.

Within four minutes of the restart, Quins had another when Care gave Smith a walk-in try after the Cardiff defence was torn to shreds.

With Quins firmly in control, the action slowed but the visitors were still able to emphasise their superiority with late tries from front-rowers Lewis and Baxter before Green took his side past the 50-point mark.

Leinster and Exeter progress to knock-outs but costly defeats for Sale, Bristol

Leinster continued their 100 per cent start in the Champions Cup with a crushing victory over Stade Francais on Saturday.

Pool Four rivals Sale still have work to do to join them in the last 16, however, after going down to a bonus-point defeat against Stormers in South Africa.

Leinster were highly impressive as they ran in seven tries in an emphatic 43-7 win at the Aviva Stadium.

James Lowe began the rout after 17 minutes and Josh van der Flier and Dan Sheehan added further scores before the break.

Jordan Larmour and Caelan Doris then claimed two apiece after the break with Stade Francais limited to a late consolation from Joris Segonds.

Sale were edged out by four tries to three as they suffered a 31-24 loss in Cape Town.

Tries from Hacjivah Dayimani and Suleiman Hartzenberg gave Stormers an early advantage and, with Leolin Zas later scoring two, the hosts were able to stay ahead despite replies from Jonny Hill, Agustin Creevy and Sam Bedlow.

Bedlow was sin-binned in a dramatic ending but the Sharks clung on for their bonus point as Manie Libbok, who had earlier kicked 11 points, missed the resulting penalty.

Henry Slade’s late touchline conversion of Zack Wimbush’s try secured Exeter a 19-17 victory over Glasgow which sealed their place in the knockout stages.

The Chiefs could have lost in a dramatic end to the match, though, as Glasgow secured a five-metre scrum from the restart.

It was Exeter’s put-in but the ball ran loose for replacement Euan Ferrie to crash over but TMO replays showed he had broken from the scrum early and the try was disallowed.

Also in Pool Three, Munster boosted their hopes of reaching the next phase with a 29-18 triumph at Toulon.

The Irish province trailed 10-0 early on but recovered to lead 17-13 at the break and then powered on to their first victory in this season’s competition with tries from Tom Ahern and Calvin Nash.

Alex Nankivell and Simon Zebo had crossed in the first half in response to Duncan Paia’aua’s early score while Jack Crowley landed three conversions and a penalty.

In Pool One, Bristol‘s hopes of reaching the knockout stages were dealt a major setback as South African challengers the Bulls beat them 31-17 at Ashton Gate.

The west country club must now beat Connacht in Galway to have even an outside chance of making the last 16, but they are still likely to be reliant on results elsewhere.

Bristol Bears' Gabriel Ibitoye (left) is tackled by Vodacom Bulls' Khutha Mchunu

Bristol Bears’ Gabriel Ibitoye (left) is tackled by Vodacom Bulls’ Khutha Mchunu

Bristol were overpowered by a physical, unrelenting Bulls team, conceding tries to wing Sergeal Petersen, prop Khutha Mchunu, flanker Elrigh Louw and hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels, with fly-half Johan Goosen kicking three conversions and a penalty, and centre David Kriel landing one conversion.

Bulls’ bonus-point triumph owed everything to their overwhelming scrummaging superiority, with Bristol restricted to tries from scrum-half Kieran Marmion, wing Gabriel Ibitoye and number eight Magnus Bradbury, plus one AJ MacGinty conversion.

The Gallagher Premiership side could have no complaints, while the Bulls underlined credentials as a force in the 24-team competition.

Connacht slipped to their third successive defeat as they were beaten 34-20 in their Pool One encounter at Lyon.

Sean Jansen stunned the hosts with an early try but the French side hit back through Thaakir Abrahams and Alexandre Tchaptchet.

Cian Prendergast and Tadgh McElroy touched down to keep Connacht in contention but, with 12 points from the boot of Paddy Jackson and further tries from Mickael Guillard and Abrahams, Lyon had enough.

Ulster‘s hopes of going through remain in the balance after they were overpowered 48-24 by Pool Two leaders Toulouse.

Antoine Dupont was in inspired form, scoring two of his side’s seven tries and having a hand in a number of others as the French side secured their spot in the last 16.

Peato Mauvaka also touched down twice after Matthis Lebel had opened the scoring. Alexandre Roumat added another in a dominant first hour.

Tom Stewart, Will Addison and Nick Timoney restored some respectability to the scoreline for Ulster but Emmanuel Meafou put the seal on Toulouse’s performance.Thomas Ramos weighed in with 11 points.

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England 30-24 Fiji: Owen Farrell kicks Steve Borthwick’s side into Rugby World Cup semi-finals

Owen Farrell’s magical boot led England into the Rugby World Cup semi-finals at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Sunday

Owen Farrell helped boot England into their sixth Rugby World Cup semi-final after surviving an incredible late fightback from Fiji at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Sunday.

England topped Pool D with four victories from four, but they took on a Fiji side in the last eight who inflicted their last defeat in the build-up to this tournament.

Steve Bortwick’s side appeared to be cruising into the semi-finals at 24-10 ahead deep in the second half but the Pacific Islanders mounted a sensational fightback to level matters with 10 minutes to go before Farrell’s boot rescued England and secured a 30-24 victory.

England – Tries: Tuilagi (14) Marchant (23). Cons: Farrell. Pens: Farrell (11,34,38,54,78). Drop goal: Farrell (72).

Fiji – Tries: Mata (28) Ravai (64) Botitu (68). Cons: Lomani, Kuruvoli (2). Pens: Lomani (20).

George Ford, the architect of England’s critical pool-stage victory over Argentina, dropped to the bench with captain Farrell moving from inside centre and Joe Marchant joining Manu Tuilagi in midfield.

Elsewhere, Harlequins playmaker Marcus Smith was preferred to Freddie Steward and made only a second Test start in the full-back position.

Tuilagi celebrates after scoring England's opening try

Tuilagi celebrates after scoring England’s opening try

After a cagey opening 10 minutes, referee Mathieu Raynal handed England the chance to open the scoring in front of the posts after Fiji were penalised for not rolling away and Farrell duly obliged.

Moments later, England went through two phases from the lineout before the dangerous Tuilagi spun away and dived down in the corner for his 20th try for his country and an 8-0 lead after Farrell hit the post with his conversion.

Scrum half Frank Lomani made up for an earlier missed penalty by converting with his second attempt to get Fiji on the board but it was the men in white who continued their bright start when Joe Marchant barrowed over from close range with Farrell putting over the extras for a comfortable 15-3 lead.

The Princess of Wales watches England in action alongside chairman of the RFU, Bill Beaumont

The Princess of Wales watches England in action alongside chairman of the RFU, Bill Beaumont

Marcus Smith is caught full in the face by  Vinaya Habosi

Marcus Smith is caught full in the face by Vinaya Habosi

Things went from bad to worse for the Fijians when wing Vinaya Habosi caught Smith full in the face with his head and was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes.

However, despite being down to 14-players, No 8 Viliame Mata produced a moment of magic to outfox the England defence with a neat show and go to cross over the whitewash. Lomani converted to reduce the deficit to 15-10.

Farrell and England’s breakdown success delighted Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, in the stands, by completing a penalty hat-trick as further cracks appeared in Fiji’s discipline, and Borthwick’s side led by 11 points at the break.

Marchant dives in to score England's second try

Marchant dives in to score England’s second try

Both sides hardly charged into the quarter-finals in a blaze of glory, but they were desperate to grasp a glorious opportunity to progress, especially as Fiji upped the tempo at the start of the second half.

Despite looking dangerous, Fiji were continually being beaten to the breakdown and were caught offside. Farrell slotted over his fourth penalty to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

The Pacific Island nation recorded their first-ever win over England when the two teams last met – a 30-22 triumph in a World Cup warm-up match at Twickenham back in August and some wonderful rugby enabled them to close the gap to within punching distance when Peni Ravai burst through to get over the line with Kuruvoli converting.

Botitu (left) celebrates scoring his sides third try in an incredible conclusion to the match

Botitu (left) celebrates scoring his sides third try in an incredible conclusion to the match

Fiji were not going quietly and in an incredible turnaround they sliced England apart to score again through Vilimoni Botitu under the posts with Kuruvoli’s second successful conversion tying things up at 24-24 with 10 to go.

A pulsating finale continued at pace, with Farrell then dropping a goal to put England three points ahead, and after Ben Earl’s stunning break resulted in another Farrell penalty, Fiji were unable to pull off a late miracle.

Ollie Lawrence consoles Waisea Nayacalevu after a titanic batle

Ollie Lawrence consoles Waisea Nayacalevu after a titanic batle

The vagaries of the draw presented a less-than-perilous route to the semi-finals for England and, having now navigated it, they will be out to seize their opportunity at reaching a fourth World Cup final next Saturday.

Farrell: We had to find a way to win I Borthwick: We are determined to be successful

Owen Farrell, speaking to ITV

“It was what we expected. They are a tough, tough team that can turn it on in the blink of an eye. I thought we started the game really well. We really got after it in that first half.

“We always knew Fiji were going to have some good patches and they did. To find a way to win and get through to the semi-finals is a big step forward but we know we have plenty of work to do.”



England head coach Steve Borthwick, speaking to ITV

“I thought the players were magnificent. The whole squad has worked very, very hard to get that result tonight,” said Borthwick.

“I have to give immense credit to Fiji. They played tremendously well tonight and they have had a fantastic World Cup. I am obviously delighted we found a way to win that game.

“I thought the vast majority of the game we were in control. There was a spell in the second half were they scored two back-to-back tries.

“What I was really pleased with was how the players handled it thereafter.

“A lot has been written about these players and this England team over the last period of time and what I see is a group of players that can handle and rise to these occasions.

“We don’t forget that many people said that we weren’t going to make it out of the group and then there was firmness that we would lose tonight.

“These players will be written off again I am pretty sure but when I see these players, I see a fantastic group of people who are determined to be successful, determined to be the best versions of themselves.”

Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui was nearly in tears in his post-match interview. “This is just the beginning for this Fiji team,” he says. “I couldn’t be prouder.”

What’s next?

Jonny Wilkinson kicked the winning drop goal to give England victory in extra time during the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final against Australia

Jonny Wilkinson kicked the winning drop goal to give England victory in extra time during the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final against Australia

England, who won their only Webb Ellis Cup in 2003, and have been beaten World Cup finalists on three occasions in 1991, 2007 and 2019 will take on hosts France or holders South Africa in the semi-finals the Stade de France in Paris, scheduled for next Saturday October 21 (8pm kick-off BST).

New Zealand, who progressed to the World Cup semi-finals for the ninth time in their history, will face Michael Cheika’s Argentina, who are into their first semi-final since 2015, at the same venue on Friday October 20 (8pm kick-off BST).

The Pumas beat the All Blacks for the first time in Sydney in the 2020 Rugby Championship and repeated the feat last year on New Zealand soil in Christchurch.

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Ireland 24-28 New Zealand: All Blacks break Irish Rugby World Cup hearts at quarter-final stage again

Ireland suffered an eighth Rugby World Cup quarter-final exit in their history, as New Zealand beat them in a Paris epic

A ruthless New Zealand side broke Ireland hearts at the Rugby World Cup quarter-final stage again, as the All Blacks prevailed 28-24 at the Stade de France in Paris.

In a breathless first half, the All Blacks raced out to a 13-0 lead through a Leicester Fainga’anuku try, and the boots of Richie Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett, but Ireland recovered well to narrow the half-time gap to a single point at 18-17.

Ireland’s Bundee Aki and Jamison Gibson-Park scored tries during that opening period – either side of an Ardie Savea try for New Zealand and Aaron Smith’s sin-binning for a deliberate knock-on – as Andy Farrell’s team fought back, but their inability to strike in the 22 enough proved a major factor as Will Jordan put the All Blacks back to two scores ahead with a second-half try.

Ireland – Tries: Aki (27), Gibson-Park (39), Penalty Try (64). Cons: Sexton (29, 40). Pens: Sexton (22).

New Zealand – Tries: Fainga’anuku (19), Savea (33), Jordan (53). Cons: Mo’unga (21), J Barrett (54). Pens: Mo’unga (8), J Barrett (14, 69).

Ireland responded again as their pack forced a penalty try when Codie Taylor collapsed a rampaging rolling maul, with Taylor also sin-binned for the act. But the men in green crucially failed to score against the 14 players, suffering yet another agonising last-eight exit.

Mo’unga kicked New Zealand into an early 3-0 lead, and, despite several key Ireland chances in the 22, the All Blacks then blew out the scoreboard on 19 minutes with a stunning counter-attack try down the left.

Beauden Barrett created it as he chipped and regathered, before Jordie Barrett, Fainga’anuku and Rieko Ioane connected superbly, with the latter offloading inside magnificently for Fainga’anuku to score.

New Zealand's Leceister Fainga'anuku scored the opening try of the contest

New Zealand’s Leceister Fainga’anuku scored the opening try of the contest

Mo’unga converted brilliantly for 13-0, but Johnny Sexton finally put Ireland onto the scoreboard after a cheap penalty for blocking.

On 27 minutes, Ireland – fuelled by the twinkling feet of Mack Hansen – played on penalty advantage before Aki scored a stunning solo try.

Ireland's Bundee Aki replied with a brilliant solo run and score

Ireland’s Bundee Aki replied with a brilliant solo run and score

Ireland’s lineout continued to falter, however, as, after losing another set-piece, New Zealand produced a 50:22 and were in for their second try through Savea, quick ball in the 22 paving the way for a diving finish in the corner.

Mo’unga struck wide with the conversion to leave the All Blacks up by eight, but scrum-half Smith was sin-binned with four minutes of the half to play.

Ardie Savea's try in the corner came at a crucial time for the All Blacks, just after Ireland had hit back

Ardie Savea’s try in the corner came at a crucial time for the All Blacks, just after Ireland had hit back

After one Ireland attack was illegally halted, Ireland showed courage to kick to the corner again, from where Gibson-Park sniped and reached to score superbly.

Ireland continued to waste chances when well-placed, though, their first three attacks in the 22 in the second period each coming to nothing as the All Blacks defended strongly.

Jamison Gibson-Park scored Ireland's second try on the cusp of half-time, but they wasted many other chances

Jamison Gibson-Park scored Ireland’s second try on the cusp of half-time, but they wasted many other chances

The stark difference in ruthlessness was then laid bare when Mo’unga and Jordan cut through the heart of Ireland’s defence to score a try off a lineout within their own half.

Jordie Barrett lashed over the touchline conversion for a two-score lead at 25-17, and Ireland then lost key man Hansen to injury, before Sexton should have narrowed the gap back to five points via a penalty, but struck poorly wide.

Ireland continued to play in the New Zealand half, and in the 64th minute the pack sprinted forward for a penalty try which resulted in Taylor’s yellow card, handing Ireland a golden chance inside the final quarter. New Zealand were next to score, however, as Jordie Barrett struck over for a four-point lead.

Aki forced a breakdown penalty within moments, and though Ireland’s maul got rumbling forward again, Ronan Kelleher was agonisingly held up as he dived for the line.

The All Blacks' defence just held out in the second half to claim victory

The All Blacks’ defence just held out in the second half to claim victory

Caelan Doris then knocked on the goal-line dropout to compound the error, with Taylor’s sin-bin elapsing for no Ireland score.

Farrell’s men summoned up one final effort through 30-plus phases into the New Zealand 22, but they just fell short.

Sexton: I’m very proud of the boys and the nation | ‘We couldn’t have done more’

Ireland captain Sexton told ITV Sport post-match…

“I’m very proud of the boys. Proud of the nation, the country, we couldn’t have done any more really.

“It’s fine margins, they sucker punched us on a couple of tries and we had to work really hard for our tries, that’s what champions do.

“Fair play to them, they’re a cracking team. It’s been amazing, these last six weeks have been a dream. This group, these fans and I’m just gutted we couldn’t do it for them.

“You’ve got to work hard for fairy-tale endings, we didn’t get it and that’s just life.

“We didn’t leave a stone unturned, we ticked every box, trained the house down. I thought after a slow enough start we played alright tonight.

“Fair play to the All Blacks, they’re a very good team and well coached.”

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster said post-match…

“It was a massive game between two teams that were desperate for a result and they’re an incredibly proud team with an amazing record coming into this one.

“But the quarter-finals is about knockout rugby and we’ve been there before and we know we were going to have to dig into ourselves, we did and I couldn’t be more proud.

“Pretty important, wasn’t it? [Barrett holding up Kelleher over the try-line]. He got himself underneath it and that’s the game of small margins. Our defence was particularly strong for most of the game.”

What’s next?

The defeat means Ireland exit at the quarter-final stage of a World Cup for the eighth time in their history, and have still yet to make a World Cup semi-final. They exit having topped Pool B after wins over Romania, Tonga, South Africa and Scotland, before falling to the All Blacks as they did four years ago in Japan.

The victory means New Zealand progress to the World Cup semi-finals for the ninth time in their history, and will face Argentina at the Stade de France in Paris on Friday October 20 (8pm kick-off BST).

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Explained | BBC presenter scandal: A look at timeline of events, allegations & media response

The story so far: TheBritish Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) star news presenter Huw Edwards is at the centre of a scandal over paying for sexually explicit photos. While his identity was initially kept hidden when the scandal broke, Mr. Edwards’ wife Vicky Flind issued a statement on July 12, revealing him to be the accused BBC presenter.

In the statement, Ms. Flind stated that the 61-year-old host of BBC’s flagship show ‘News at 10’ is suffering from ‘serious mental health issues’ and is now receiving in-patient care at a hospital, where he will stay for the foreseeable future. She added that Mr. Edwards has been battling severe depression in recent years.

A screen in BBC Broadcasting house, in central London, displaying a photo of presenter Huw Edwards, in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2023.

A screen in BBC Broadcasting house, in central London, displaying a photo of presenter Huw Edwards, in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2023.

The news was first broken by British tabloid The Sun on July 7, when it revealed that a BBC news presenter had allegedly payed £35,000 since 2020 to someone who was then a teenager in return for ‘sordid images’. Mr. Edwards was suspended by the BBC after further details of the scandal emerged.

Mr. Edwards, a Welsh journalist who began his career with the BBC in 1984, has been the broadcaster’s top newsreader, often heading its flagship shows — Six O’ Clock News and Ten O’ Clock News. Apart from covering several elections, he has also presented BBC’s commentary at the Olympic ceremonies and recently delivered the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death to a grieving nation.

 What is the allegation?

On July 7, The Sun reported that a ‘top BBC presenter’ was taken off air as allegations of him paying a teenager for sexual images were being investigated. Speaking to the girl’s mother, the tabloid reported that the payment was allegedly used to fund a drug habit. The mother claimed that the BBC star had been paying her child since 2020, when she was 17, demanding explicit photos via ‘sleazy messages’.

Photo of The Sun tabloid’s frontpage on July 7

Photo of The Sun tabloid’s frontpage on July 7
| Photo Credit:
Sky News

The report immediately caused an uproar with many BBC presenters coming under the cloud of suspicion on social media. Several top BBC hosts such as Jeremy Vine, Gary Lineker, Rylan Clark and Nicky Campbell were speculated to be the presenter in question, and faced severe attacks.

On July 9, BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Nicky Campbell publicly refuted claims and reported to the London Metropolitan police after being wrongly named as the BBC presenter at the centre of the scandal. Similarly, BBC’s Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeted, “Hate to disappoint the haters but it’s not me”. TV host Rylan Clark also wrote, “Not sure why my names floating about but re that story in the Sun – that ain’t me babe”. BBC Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine too echoed Mr. Clark, tweeting, “it certainly ain’t me.”

Meanwhile, the girl’s lawyer, on July 11, told BBC that “nothing inappropriate or unlawful has taken place between our client and the BBC personality,” rubbishing The Sun’s report. Defending its reporting, The Sun said that the concerned parents filed a complaint to the BBC. However, no action had been taken on it.

As mystery around the accused BBC presenter continued, the London Metropolitan police issued a statement that they had concluded their assessment and that there was no indication that a criminal offence had been committed. While the age of consent in the UK is 16, images of any person under 18 can be considered ‘child pornography’.

What was BBC’s response?

After The Sun report broke, the BBC, on July 10, stated that it had been aware of a complaint against a male presenter in May, but “new allegations were put of a different nature.” Without naming Mr. Edwards, the British national broadcaster said that it had suspended a male staff member after allegations of payments for sexually explicit photos of teenager. The news house, which is publically funded and operates under the UK’s Culture Ministry, was pulled up by state minister Lucy Frazer who spoke with BBC Director General Tim Davie about the ‘deeply concerning allegations.’ Mr. Davie assured her that the BBC was “investigating swiftly and sensitively”.

BBC Director General Tim Davie

BBC Director General Tim Davie
| Photo Credit:
Hannah McKay

The Sun released the text messages between the ‘BBC presenter’ and the girl, claiming that the BBC star had never hidden his identity to the then-17-year-old and had contacted her ‘out of the blue’.

The BBC then released a timeline of the sex scandal beginning from May when it first received the complaint against its star presenter Huw Edwards.

May: Victim’s family complains to BBC about ‘presenter’

As per the BBC account, a family member of the victim complained to the BBC’s corporate investigations team about a BBC presenter’s behaviour. While the complaint did not include an allegation of criminality, the allegations were serious enough to merit further investigation.

June: BBC begins internal probe

Initial communication between BBC and the family was established to verify identity and the complaint. However, later, the family claimed that the ‘no one from BBC rang them up for a proper interview’. BBC claims that while an initial call was attempted, no additional attempts were made to contact the family. The case, however, remained open.

July 6: The Sun contacts BBC with allegations

The Sun contacted the BBC’s corporate press office regarding allegations against Mr. Edwards of payment for sexually explicit photos of a teenager. The BBC claimed that ‘new allegations’ were brought to light, different from those received by the investigations team. Mr. Edwards was made aware of the allegations and the corporation agreed to take him off air while the allegations were being investigated. The Welsh journalist last appeared on air in Edinburgh for a special broadcast on Scottish celebrations for the coronation of King Charles III.

July 7-8: The Sun breaks story on BBC presenter, BBC contacts police

The Sun’s story broke, quoting the victim’s mother. After the revelations, BBC contacted the Metropolitan police and resumed its internal investigation.

July 9-10: BBC suspends presenter

Without naming him, BBC suspended Mr. Edwards, who allegedly contacted the girl and appealed to them to call their mother and stop the investigation. The victim’s lawyer denied the allegations, while the Sun stood by its report claiming it was voicing the story of ‘two very concerned parents who had complained to BBC about its presenter’s behaviour’.

July 11: Second victim emerges

BBC accepted that ‘lessons were to be learned’ from the investigation and that protocols in place would be assessed. Moreover, another young person told BBC that the ‘presenter’ (Mr. Edwards) contacted them on a dating app and asked to meet, threatening them, but never did. The second victim (a 23-year-old) also revealed that they were sent abusive messages when they hinted at going public. These allegations were also reported by the Sun.

July 12: Presenter is identified as Huw Edwards, police find no criminality

Police closed the investigation after deciding that there was no indication of a criminal offence. Meanwhile, Huw Edwards was revealed to be the accused BBC presenter, confirmed by his wife Vicky Flind. She also detailed Mr. Edwards’ mental ill-health, requesting the public to respect her family’s privacy.

While the police investigation ended, BBC continues to investigate the allegations. Fresh claims of inappropriate behaviour by Mr. Edwards towards junior staff are being probed. Two current staff members and one former employee claimed they were sent uncomfortable messages by Mr. Edwards. The Sun has handed over a confidential and redacted dossier containing serious and wide-ranging allegations to the BBC team and plans to publish no further allegations against Mr. Edwards.

The BBC’s top management including Director-general Time Davie, acting chair Elan Closs Stephens have been pulled up by the British House of Lords over the controversy, according to the Express. The Lords’ Communications and Digital Committee called the two chiefs for a meeting on July 18 pertaining to the allegations, BBC’s response and the broadcaster’s system to address such complaints.

BBC Vs Sun: War over news coverage

While BBC admitted mistakes in addressing the sex scandal, it attacked the Sun over its reportage. Firing off questions to the tabloid, the BBC demanded proof of the explicit photos sent to Mr. Edwards by the 17-year-old. The news house questioned why the Sun did not cover the girl’s denial in its reportage and why it did not name Mr. Edwards in its initial expose.

In response, the Sun demanded that BBC answer its allegations regarding the payments, the threatening and inappropriate messages sent to a teenager, and the BBC investigation prior to the Sun’s expose. It also highlighted the cracks in BBC’s complaint system, the unpublished allegations and the silence among BBC staff.

Supporting the BBC, two other news agencies, The Guardian and The Independent,questioned the Sun’s reportage, asking if its report alleges any crime and if the tabloid had proof to back its claims. The tabloid – owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch – has also been criticised for sensationalising a sensitive issue, not establishing criminality and not quoting the alleged victim, who has now rubbished the Sun’s report.

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