Now BBC renames John Peel building
THE BBC has renamed its John Peel wing amid controversy over the late DJ’s sexual relationships with underage girls.
The broadcaster rebranded the wing Zone H last month, saying it was part of a wider move to make the building easier to navigate.
Peel was one of the longest serving BBC DJs, broadcasting on Radio 1 from its launch in 1967 until his death aged 65 in 2004.
However, he admitted sleeping with fans as young as 13 – though he claimed he didn’t know their ages at the time – and at 26 married Shirley Anne Milburn, who was just 15.
Peel’s behaviour came under scrutiny when Jimmy Savile was exposed as a prolific sex offender in October 2012. But that same year, then director-general Mark Thompson called him ‘a great ambassador for the BBC’ when he unveiled the Peel Wing, describing it as a ‘fitting tribute to a man who personified so much of what the BBC stands for’.
However, Peel has been accused of hiding his sexual activity in plain sight throughout his career.
Admitting having sexual relations with young fans, he once said: ‘Well, of course, I didn’t ask for ID.’ He later claimed his first wife’s parents had lied about their daughter’s age.
It comes after Glastonbury Festival announced it was renaming its John Peel stage Woodsies.
A petition last summer urged it to drop Peel’s name due to ‘ serious sexual abuse he has been accused of and even admitted against women and children’.
But both the BBC and the festival insisted they were not influenced by campaigners, The Sunday Times reported. Mike Read, a former Radio 1 DJ who worked with Peel for 13 years, accused Glastonbury and the BBC of ‘changing history’.
But feminist campaigner and ‘former John Peel fan’ Karen Ingala Smith said: ‘We need to be careful who we hold up as role models.’