BBC apologises after comparing its own newsreader Gemma Dawson to missing woman

Renata Antczak disappeared more than two weeks ago after dropping off her daughter to school 

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The Independent Online

The BBC was forced to apologise over a Facebook post and tweet comparing its own newsreader to a woman who has gone missing. 

The post sparked outrage among readers, who slammed it as “awful” and “poor taste”. 

BBC Look North for East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire shared the post after police renewed an appeal for information on Renata Antczak, who went missing on 25 April.

She has not been seen since driving her 11-year-old daughter to school in Hull that day, and police say they are increasingly concerned for her safety. 

In a statement, police said it was out of character for the 49-year-old lawyer not to be in touch with her family and that she had never gone missing before. 

BBC Look North featured the story on its lunchtime broadcast but in a later social media post compared newsreader Gemma Dawson to the missing mum, the Hull Daily Mail reports. 

As Ms Dawson was summing up the story, a picture of Ms Antczak was projected on the screen behind her. The two blonde women appeared to have similar hairstyles, and were both wearing red. 

The social media post read: "When your newsreader @GemsDawson looks like a missing mum. Here's a link to the story."

The Facebook post was later changed to say: "When your newsreader looks like the story."

Social media users said the post was disrespectful to the missing mum. 

One person tweeted: "This is an awful tweet. Have some respect for the missing woman."

Another added: "Should the BBC be making jokes about a missing woman?"

On Facebook someone described the post as “poor taste”. 

Responding to the comments, BBC Look North responded: "Sorry you think that but we hoped the publicity for the search might help... if people decide to share it?” 

BBC Look North has since deleted the post from its social media accounts and apologised, saying it “regrets” any offence caused. 

A spokesman said: "This post has been deleted. We regret if it caused offence. We are continuing to cover the police search for this missing woman across our output including social media."

Humberside Police said there was no indication that a crime had been committed regarding the disappearance of Ms Antczak. 

Superintendent Phil Ward said: "During the morning of April 25, we know Renata took her daughter to school in her black Mercedes. We know she returned home and left her address in the afternoon at 1pm on foot.

"We have no indication of where she was going at this stage. We have done a number of enquiries, but we have no indication of where she was going or who she was with.” 

Anyone with information about Ms Antczak should call Humberside Police on 101, quoting log 324 of April 26.

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