A 24-hour hotline has been launched as part of the BBC inquiry into what the corporation knew about allegations of sexual misconduct against DJ Tim Westwood.
The independent inquiry, led by barrister Gemma White KC, said it had set up the confidential phone line in a bid to ‘expand the ways in which people can come forward’ to report information.
Ms. White was appointed by the BBC Board last August after an internal review found the corporation should have further explored a string of sexual assault allegations against Westwood.
She said that she had opened the confidential phone line until 19 May so that people had an opportunity to speak with her or her colleagues directly.
The inquiry, which has already seen more than 50,000 BBC documents, was expected to publish its findings in the spring.
But giving an update on its progress, Ms. White said the review is taking ‘longer than many would have hoped’, and would be extended until June or July to allow for a ‘thorough review’ of new information.
It has emerged that Westwood, who left the BBC in 2013, was interviewed under caution by the Metropolitan Police in March and April this year in relation to five sexual offences alleged to have taken place between 1982 and 2016.
The 65-year-old, who stepped down from his show on Capital Xtra in April last year, strongly denies the allegations.
Announcing the new hotline, Ms. White said: ‘I have recently been provided with material suggesting that there are people who want to contribute to the review by calling me, or members of the Linklaters review team, rather than having to email to make an appointment to speak.
‘I have been working since November 2022 with Jahnine Davis, who is a safeguarding professional with particular expertise in violence against women and girls and safeguarding black children.
‘We have discussed participation in the review and think that some people might prefer to speak directly to Jahnine rather than having to arrange a meeting with me.
‘We have therefore set up a dedicated phone line which will allow people to contact Jahnine directly, or to speak to me if they wish.
‘Either Jahnine or I will be available to speak during the working day, and Jahnine will also be available on certain evenings.
‘There will be a 24/7 answering system to take messages if we are unavailable or if you would prefer to simply leave recorded evidence on the machine.
‘I expect to report to the BBC in late June or early July 2023. I appreciate that this is later than many would have hoped.
‘The additional time is necessary for a thorough review of documents and information which we continue to receive and will allow a reasonable period to consider any new contributions which are made through the phone line.’
Last year, a statement from a representative of Westwood 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.’