BBC director-general Tony Hall apologises for racial slur in news report: ‘We made a mistake – we are very sorry’

Use of the N-word sparked 18,600 complaints

Ellie Harrison
Sunday 09 August 2020 19:40
White BBC presenter uses uncensored racist slur in report on 'racially motivated' Bristol hit-and-run on NHS worker

The BBC director-general, Tony Hall, has apologised on behalf of the corporation some ten days after the use of the N-word in a BBC News report.

The BBC was hit with more than 18,600 complaints over the use of the racial slur by its social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin, who is white.

She repeated the N-word in a report on what police believe to have been a racially motivated hit-and-run attack on a young NHS worker in Bristol.

While relaying what frightened witnesses allegedly heard the perpetrators shout as they fled, Ms Lamdin narrated in a pre-recorded segment: “Just to warn you, you’re about to hear highly offensive language, because as the men ran away, they hurled racial abuse, calling him a n*****.”

The BBC initially defended its decision, but according to media journalist Scott Bryan, Mr Hall has now emailed staff, saying: “The BBC now accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of broadcast and we are very sorry for that.”

He added: “It should be clear that the BBC’s intention was to highlight an alleged racist attack. This is important journalism which the BBC should be reporting on and we will continue to do so.

“Yet despite these good intentions, I recognise that we have ended up creating distress amongst many people.

“Every organisation should be able to acknowledge when it has made a mistake. We made one here. It is important for us to listen – and also to learn. And that is what we will continue to do.”

He added that the BBC is strengthening its guidance on offensive language. Mr Hall announced earlier this year that he would be stepping down as director-general after seven years in the role. Tim Davie, the head of BBC Studios, will replace him.

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The BBC’s initial refusal to apologise for the slur led to BBC Radio 1Xtra host Sideman quitting in protest. He said: “With no apology I just don’t feel comfortable being aligned with the organisation.”

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