INTERVIEW: Darcus Howe
RESPECTED VOICE columnist Darcus Howe has welcomed an apology from the BBC over a live interview in which he was accused of taking part in the violent riots that have plagued parts of London.
“I welcome the apology,” said Howe, to whom the BBC apologised earlier today for the August 9 interview.
There had been several complaints from people who objected to what they termed offensive questions from news presenter Fiona Armstrong.
“I would have sued if they didn’t apologise,” said Howe. “…I would have sued if I felt it was spite or malice but a lot them (BBC employees) know me and sent messages saying they were sorry. It was a miserable mistake.”
During the interview, in which Darcus was asked about his views on the unrest and spoke about the police’s over use of stop and search on youngsters like his grandson, news presenter Fiona Armstrong said: “You are not a stranger to riots yourself, I understand, are you? You have taken part in them yourself.”
Howe, a broadcaster himself, responded angrily, accusing Armstrong of showing a lack of respect.
He said: “I have never taken part in a single riot. I've been part of demonstrations that ended up in a conflict.
“Stop accusing me of being a rioter and have some respect for an old West Indian negro, because you wanted for me to get abusive. You just sound idiotic - have some respect.”
In its apology, the news channel acknowledged it had been a “poorly-phrased question,” but blamed it on the difficulty of live interviews and technical issues, which meant the pair talked over each other.
“We'd like to apologise for any offence that this interview has caused.”
Howe said the BBC gaffe gave him the opportunity to do several more interviews and address the real issues, among them highlighting how innocent young men such as his grandson continue to be unfairly stopped and searched by the police.
In addition, Howe said he wanted to see more Government officials answer questions that remain over the death of 29-year-old father-of four-Mark Duggan, shot dead by police on August 4.
His death triggered the explosion of rage that later burgeoned into the riots.
An initial report from police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has said there is no evidence Duggan fired a shot at police, contrary to early claims.
Duggan’s family have told reporters they feel “gutted” at hearing this news.