Naga Munchetty racism row: calls for BBC to apologise and explain

The backlash against the broadcaster has continued after further details about the complaint were disclosed

RACISM ROW: Dan Walker and Naga Munchetty (Image: Screengrab/BBC)

THE BBC is facing calls to apologise and explain the events that led it to uphold a complaint made against Naga Munchetty after it reversed the decision yesterday.

Munchetty had been found to have breached BBC guidelines after she commented on Donald Trump’s tweets asking why four American congresswomen of colour didn’t “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”.

The statements were aired on BBC Breakfast during a discussion with her co-host Dan Walker, who invited her to share her experiences and thoughts on Trump’s tweets.

Despite Walker’s involvement in the discussion, he was not subject to the BBC’s investigation. When the BBC’s editorial standards director David Jordan was questioned about this during an appearance on News Watch, he said that the single complaint the BBC received did not mention Walker.

Jordan’s claims were contradicted by copies of the viewer’s complaint obtained by the Guardian. In the viewer’s initial correspondence they complained about Munchetty and Walker, naming them both.

A revised version of the complaint from the same viewer did not mention Walker and it was this correspondence that was elevated to the ECU, the Guardian reported. 

BBC director-general Tony Hall said yesterday that he personally reviewed the Editorial Complaints Unit’s (ECU) action and deemed Munchetty’s comments not “sufficient to merit a partial uphold” of the complaint.

While the decision has been welcomed by campaigners, they continue to demand the BBC takes further action to address and make amends for the initial decision.  

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “This is the right decision. Now the BBC must apologise and overhaul its complaints procedure. When people of colour call out racism they should be listened to and supported. Action should be taken against racists, not those that challenge them.”

Afua Hirsch, who spearheaded an open letter published in the Guardian signed by dozens of black celebrities and journalists said it was “good to the BBC has reversed its discriminatory decision”.

Although she has welcomed the u-turn, she has continued to press the BBC to explain why Munchetty alone was the focus of the ECU’s complaint procedure.

“Why did you single out [Naga] when there were complaints against both?” she tweeted.

Magid Magid, the Green Party MEP, tweeted: “Make no mistake – this is as a result of public outcry alone. Common sense may have finally won, but the BBC and its Executive Complaints Unit need to seriously get their act together. 

“Racism is a matter of fact, and it’s wrong plain and simple.”

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