THE BBC has apologised to Prince Harry over its decision to publish an image from a neo-Nazi group that labelled him a “race traitor” without prior warning.
The image of the Duke of Sussex was aired on BBC News at 10 and published on the BBC’s website in December 2018. It depicted Prince Harry with a gun pointed to his head, bright red blood splattered over him and the words: “See ya later race traitor”.
It was created by a neo-Nazi and used by the BBC in a report about an investigation into an underground neo-Nazi group called Sonnenkrieg Division.
A spokesperson for the duke told The Guardian that the image raised “serious security concerns” for the prince and “caused his family great distress specifically while his wife was nearly five months pregnant”.
While a complaint by the Duke of Sussex was rejected by both the BBC and Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, the BBC has now issued an apology to both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for not giving them prior notice that the image would be published.
In the letter to the duke, the BBC said: “Before publishing seriously offensive material we need to be vigilant in balancing the impact on individuals against the wider good which may be served by publication.”
The duke’s spokesperson said that he believes the image should have been described not reproduced but that he welcomed the BBC’s letter.
“His Royal Highness raised the issue with Ofcom about the rebroadcasting of this racist image due to his concerns that hateful and dangerous propaganda had been spread globally by the world’s most important public service broadcaster. Due to the credibility of the BBC, their choice to publicise this material created an open door for all other media to reproduce it,” The Guardian reported a spokesperson for Harry said.
While it stood by its decision to publish the image, the BBC removed it from its website two days after it was included in an online article.
Following the BBC’s report, Michal Szewczuk, a 19-year-old from Leeds, the creator of the image, was sentenced to four years and three months on terrorism charges.