The BBC has suspended several editorial staff over the phone-in scandal as Scotland Yard revealed the Corporation may face a criminal investigation.
A BBC statement said: “We can confirm that a small number of staff have been asked to step aside from their duties whilst we review issues surrounding the incidents referred to yesterday.
“We would like to stress that this should not be taken to mean that we have already made a judgment in the case of the staff concerned. This is in line with the BBC’s policy and procedures and is consistent with our duty of care to individuals.”
The staff were not named but are said to be at the level of executive producer or above.
The news came as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said he would meet the head of the Yard’s specialist crime directorate, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve House, later today, to discuss the matter.
He did not rule out a formal police investigation, saying: “It is probably a bit too early to tell at the moment, but if we are requested to investigate it we will. I think it needs a bit more time to understand what’s going on.”
The BBC admitted yesterday that six shows, including charity appeals Comic Relief, Sports Relief and Children In Need, had deceived viewers by using fake competition winners for viewer phone-ins.