BBC accused of defaming Prince Harry over cocaine joke on Have I Got News For You

Jo Brand's 'tongue-in-cheek' comment was out of order, according to Conservative MP Anna Soubry

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The Independent Culture

A senior Conservative MP has accused the BBC of defaming Prince Harry after Jo Brand told a "tongue-in-cheek joke" about the royal snorting cocaine on Have I Got News For You.

On the pre-recorded programme, which was broadcast on Friday night, Brand said of Prince George's christening: "George's godparents include Hugh van Cutsem – I presume that's a nickname as in Hugh van cuts 'em and Harry then snorts 'em."

The comment read by Brand included a mistake, as the baby's godfather is in fact William van Custem, whose father Hugh recently died.

Defence Minister Anna Soubry told the Sunday Telegraph: "Jo Brand should not have stooped to that level and both she and the BBC should apologise. It is a really cheap shot at somebody who has no right of reply and they know will not sue for libel."

Ian Hislop asked, "Have we lost the lawyers?" after Brand told the joke.

Brand said she will not apologise for a line that she did not write, but read from an autocue.

"I thought it was funny. I don't really understand what the fuss is about. I am not going to apologise. I didn't write it but I did say it so I am culpable in some way."

The BBC said in a statement: "Have I Got News For You is a satirical news quiz and the audience is used to the often irreverent humour. This was clearly a tongue-in-cheek comment."