'If your IQ is somewhere around 60 then you are probably a carrot' - leading member of Mensa apologises after controversial comment on BBC Breakfast

A number of viewers contacted the programme to voice concerns over the remarks, which they said insulted people with learning difficulties

The BBC and Mensa have both apologised after a leading member of the society called anyone with an IQ below 60 a “carrot” live on air.

Peter Baimbridge, a Mensa member, made the comments during an interview with BBC Breakfast.

He was being asked about the effectiveness of IQ tests at judging intelligence.

"So most IQ tests will have Mr and Mrs Average scoring 100 and the higher you get, the brighter you are. And if your IQ is somewhere around 60 then you are probably a carrot," Mr Baimbridge said.

A number of viewers contacted the programme to voice concerns over the remarks, which they said insulted people with learning difficulties.

The hosts, Louise Minchin and Charlie Stayt apologised at the end of the programme and read out an apology from Mr Baimbridge.

The presenters also read out some of the complaints on air. British Mensa apologised for the comment, saying it was: "totally inappropriate and does not represent the society's official position or view".

One viewer, an employee of learning disability charity Mencap, said she was "shocked" and "disgusted" by the comments.

Ciara Evans, who has a learning disability, urged Mr Baimbridge to "engage his brain before his mouth".

One of the complaints read out on air came from a Dr Sullivan who said: "As a clinical psychologist who has worked with many people who have an IQ below 60, I find these comments to be offensive and completely incorrect. Such comments perpetuate the stigma around an individual with learning difficulties."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "A number of viewers contacted BBC Breakfast this morning, who were offended by comments made by a contributor during a live interview on the programme.

"Following the initial item, we broadcast a selection of the complaints on-air a short time later in the programme, and both presenters apologised at the end of the programme and read out a personal apology from the contributor.

"Clearly we do not condone the comments that were made in any way and sincerely apologise for the offence caused."

John Stevenage, Mensa chief executive said: "We would like to apologise for any offence caused by Peter Baimbridge's remark. It most certainly does not reflect the views of the society or of our members.

"The society looks at levels of IQ. However, it fully recognises that it is not what level of mental ability someone has but what they do with it that is the real achievement in life.

"Peter himself very much regrets the comment and would like to offer sincere apologies to those people offended by the remark."

According to Mencap, 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability.

Ms Evans, a campaigns assistant with the charity, said: "As a person with a learning disability, I am shocked that someone has described people like me as carrots.

"We can achieve a lot in life: I live independently, have a full-time job and I'm getting married next year."

A number of parents and carers called and emailed the charity's helpline saying they found Mr Baimbridge's comment "deeply offensive".

Ms Evans said: "I am disgusted that he made this comment and on behalf of all the people who have tweeted, rung and emailed Mencap to say how upset they are, I think Mensa should apologise and he should engage his brain before his mouth. It seems that having a high IQ doesn't make you a sensitive or caring human being."

Mensa was founded in England in 1946 by Roland Berrill, a barrister, and Lance Ware, a scientist and lawyer, who wanted to form a society for people with a high IQ.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn