Sima Kotecha: BBC journalist 'in utter shock' after being called p**i by Brexit supporter during immigration discussion

Kotecha spoke of her shock after hearing the racial slur in her hometown  

Heather Saul@heatheranne9
Tuesday 28 June 2016 11:59
Sima Kotecha suffers racist abuse while reporting on Brexit

A Basingstoke resident used the word “p**i” during a discussion with a BBC presenter about Brexit and then insisted he is not racist.

Sima Kotecha, a reporter for the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, described being racially abused in her home town of Basingstoke days after the EU referendum.

Kotecha visited the Hampshire town to ask why voters there chose Brexit. Fifty-two per cent of residents voted to leave the EU in a result mirroring the overall percentage of leave votes across the UK.

In a report broadcast on Tuesday morning, an unnamed man in a Basingstoke pub was heard using the racially offensive term while explaining why he was pleased about the referendum result to Kotecha.

“I think all the immigrants, they should leave the country, you know what I mean?” he told Kotecha. When she asked if he was referring to Eastern Europeans living in Britain, he replied: “Yeah, like I’m not saying p**is as, like, I’m saying like all of them.” When Kotecha asked if he had said “p**is, he answered: “No, I don’t mean - sorry love.”

“That’s offensive,” she told him.

“Yeah I know,“ he replied. "No, I didn’t mean to come across… it’s all them ... they’re not foreigners. We all bleed the same, we’ve got the same heart, just different coloured skins, you know what I mean?”

“Do you not like Asians either?” asked Kotecha. “No I do like Asians,” he insisted. “I know I used p**i but I could come up with more offensive [words], you know what I mean? I’m not like that. I’m not racist at all in any shape or way.”

“In utter shock: just been called p**i in my hometown!,” Kotecha wrote on Twitter after. “Haven't heard that word here since the 80s..!”

Her tweet was met with an outpouring of disgust at the use of such language. In a second tweet, she said the support she received from the public after discussing the incident online made her feel proud to be British.

Kotecha has received a similar level of support this morning, with some Basingstoke residents apologising on the man's behalf in appalled tweets.

"I'm so sorry you had to deal with that," read one tweet.

“Sima Kotecha's report on R4 hugely disturbing,” another added. “To hear a man say the P word and then claim he is not racist."

A Basingstoke resident told Kotecha: ”I work in Basingstoke and am deeply, deeply ashamed of it today. I'm so sorry you experienced this."

The incident came as the number of hate crimes reported to police was found to have risen by 57 per cent since Britain voted to withdraw from the EU.

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