Complaint upheld over 'sick' Channel 4 joke

Katie Price has attacked the media regulator Ofcom for failing to demand that Channel 4 broadcast an apology for remarks made by the Glaswegian comedian Frankie Boyle about her disabled son, Harvey.

Ofcom upheld 500 complaints about a routine by the comic and strongly criticised Channel 4, but stopped short of demanding an on-air apology. Channel 4 defended the routine, which had been viewed and approved for broadcast by the chief executive, David Abraham. He said the channel's job was to champion and pioneer "distinctive voices in British comedy and bring them to a wider audience". Ofcom said Boyle appeared to "target and mock the mental and physical disabilities" of the eight-year-old.

Tom Pey, chief executive of the charity the Royal London Society for Blind People, said: "David Abraham should now resign. His position is untenable."

Ms Price said: "While I am pleased that Ofcom has ruled against Channel 4, I am amazed that Ofcom has not required, at the least, an apology to be broadcast. This issue is not and never was about me. It was about a direct attack on a disabled eight-year-old child by a national broadcaster (which, let us not forget, is to be the official broadcaster for the 2012 Paralympics – a role which should be questioned in light of this finding)."

Channel 4 said viewers were given strong warnings about the show, which started at 10pm, an hour after the watershed. On the show, Boyle said: "Jordan and Peter Andre are still fighting each other over custody of Harvey – eventually one of them will lose and have to keep him."

He added: "I have a theory about the reason Jordan married a cage fighter – she needed a man strong enough to stop Harvey from fucking her."

The channel denied that the joke about Price and Harvey was about Harvey's disability, or about rape or incest, insisting that it was "simply absurdist satire". The broadcaster said that Price had already put her child in the public eye; had sparked complaints about being too sexually explicit in front of her children in her own reality show; and that her husband, Alex Reid – from whom she has since split – "made a series of public jokes" about Harvey resembling the Incredible Hulk.

The broadcaster said it was "these specific remarks and the general high profile of the child, that Frankie Boyle's joke is predicated upon".

It said that a joke about custody was not about Harvey but "aimed clearly at Katie Price and Peter Andre, painting them as cynically exploiting a child in custody proceedings in the media".

However, Ofcom said any "intended satire in the two comments was... obscured by their straightforward focus on Harvey Price and his disability". It accepted that Price, Reid and Price's former husband, Peter Andre, "have consciously exposed their and their children's lives to the media". But it said that this did not justify humour targeted at a child's expense, especially when the child is "as young as eight years old and has a number of disabilities which are specifically focused on as the target of that intended humour". David Congdon, head of campaigns and policy at Mencap, the learning disability charity, said he was "pleased" that Ofcom had upheld the complaints, but added: "Channel 4's response is baffling, particularly the comments ... about their programming "testing the boundaries".

The comedian David Schneider, who has previously defended comedians whose jokes have caused controversy, was also critical. He said: "It wasn't funny. It wasn't rooted in truth. Disabled kids aren't looking to rape people. There's a missing link. All that was left was offensiveness. You have to be able to defend your joke. This one's not defendable. Channel 4 got it wrong."

'A further insult to my son . . .' Katie Price's statement

* While I am pleased that Ofcom have ruled against Channel 4 and I understand that they consider this ruling itself to be a sanction against the broadcaster – I am amazed that Ofcom have not required, at the least, an apology to be broadcast. This strikes me as a further insult to my wonderful son and another in a series of failures in this sordid affair.

To recap, Ofcom have found that Mr Boyle chose to 'directly target and mock the mental and physical disabilities of my son' and to demean him. They found that such behaviour was highly offensive yet have chosen not to require Channel 4 to publish an apology but leave their reaction as a matter for them. I have no doubt that Channel 4, given their behaviour to date, will not apologise and this must have been clear to Ofcom. This is sadly symptomatic of how disability is treated in our society and should not be accepted.

There have been a series of failures to exercise any judgment in this matter. Mr Boyle's judgment in choosing to target my eight-year-old son with his vile comments was the first.

The second failure was Channel 4's decision to broadcast these comments and given that Ofcom have found that they deliberately targeted a disabled eight-year-old, who there is going to take responsibility? We are told that input was provided into this programme from the Head of Comedy, Channel 4's Disability Adviser, Director of Creative Diversity, Controller of Legal & Compliance and Channel 4's Editor-in-Chief. Did none of these, presumably, highly educated individuals think that targeting an eight-year-old disabled boy in this way was repugnant? Are any of them going to take responsibility for Channel 4 having breached the broadcasting code and for airing material of this nature?

Given the third failure (the failure to immediately apologise for these grotesque remarks) I don't expect anyone at Channel 4 to now behave appropriately. Channel 4 attempted to justify their actions to Ofcom (the fifth failure) by attacking me. This issue is not and never was about me. It was about a direct attack on a disabled eight-year-old child by a national broadcaster (which let us not forget is to be the official broadcaster for the 2012 Paralympics – a role which should be questioned in light of this finding).

Given Channel 4's failures I can't help but feel Ofcom have let Harvey and disabled people in general down by not requiring Channel 4 to apologise. Would they have taken this route if Harvey was the child of a well-known politician?. It is clear that people at the highest levels in Channel 4 made a major misjudgement and that they are not capable of seeing how wrong their behaviour was. To expect them, as Ofcom seemingly expect, to now admit they were wrong and apologise is simply to turn their back on my son.

Does Mr Boyle or those executives at Channel 4 that allowed this material to be broadcast have the guts or common decency to apologise to my wonderful son? Sadly, I expect a cowardly and mealy mouthed response.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...

DBA

£40000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: DBA, London,...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform