In another blow to the BBC’s credibility, police are said to be acting on information received from a News of the World journalist who alleges that the recent spate of on-air gaffes from BBC broadcasters was not just random chance, or even a private game of one-upmanship, but the result of bribe-taking from Russian betting rings based in East London.
The hidden camera footage passed to the Metropolitan Police is believed to show Jeremy Paxman offering to say rude words at specific times on air so that the gamblers could then place large bets on their being gaffes during the live broadcasts at betting shops across the capital.
Full transcripts of the tapes are to be published in this weekend’s News of the World, but excerpts released today include Paxman offering to say ‘Turd’ for £50, ‘Vadge’ for £150 and ‘Felch’ for £250. It is alleged that the C-bomb would take a £1,000 bribe.
‘The words have to sound a bit like normal words so that the presenters can claim it was an unfortunate slip of the tongue later,’ explained Neal Kemp, the reporter who posed as a Russian swear-word gambler in the meeting with Paxman. ‘Other than that, anything goes.’
As well as Paxman and Radio 4’s Today Programme presenter, James Naughtie, it is thought that the News of the World will reveal several other high profile BBC broadcasters as being involved in the cash-for-gaffes scandal that has been dubbed ‘C**tgate’ by the paper.
Paxman would not comment on the allegations except to suggest it was some 'cunning stunt by dark forces'
News of the World editor, Colin Myler frothed,‘If the police investigation shows these allegations to be true, and we believe that with the evidence we've provided it will, not only will it cost Paxman his job, but they should probably close the BBC down completely,’ going on to say that this could be the most damaging scandal to rock the BBC since the Blue Peter “Lugosi-gate” scandal where Simon Groom was sacked then walled up alive in a wine-cellar niche for taking payments to include Bauhaus lyrics in the then-popular children’s show.