United Kingdom

BBC receives more than 18,000 complaints over N-word broadcast

More than 18,000 people complained to the BBC over a news report which contained a racist term, according to figures from the broadcaster.

During a report last week on a suspected racially-motivated attack in Bristol, social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin repeated a racial slur which was allegedly used during the incident.

The story ran on the BBC News Channel and local news programme Points West on July 29, however later that day the broadcaster stopped running the report which featured the offensive language.

Fiona Lamdin, left, used a racially offensive slur during a news broadcast on July 29

Viewers were warned ahead of the broadcast about the racially offensive language 

The corporation received a total of 18,656 complaints.

On the day of the broadcast a spokeswoman for the BBC said the report related to a 'shocking unprovoked attack on a young man'.

She added: 'His family told the BBC about the racist language used by the attackers and wanted to see the full facts made public.

'A warning was given before this was reported.

'We are no longer running this version of the report but are continuing to pursue the story.'

In a further statement on Tuesday, the BBC said: 'We believe we gave adequate warnings that upsetting images and language would be used and we will continue to pursue this story.'

The statement added that the decision to include the term was taken 'by a team of people including a number of senior editorial figures'.

In last month's incident, the victim was believed to have been deliberately targeted as he left Southmead Hospital in Bristol following his shift. 

Horrified witnesses said he was flung from the pavement into a nearby garden as two thugs reportedly hurled racist abuse at him.

Social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin used the offensive language when covering a collision between a Honda Accord and a 21-year-old man (pictured) in Bristol

Lamdin shocked viewers during the 10.30am clip for BBC Points West  - which was replayed on the BBC News Channel today - when she said: 'Just to warn you, you're about to hear highly offensive language.'

She added: 'Because as the men ran away, they hurled racial abuse, calling him a n*****.'

BBC guidance says strong language should not be used before the 9pm watershed, but 'n****r' is usually seen as too rude to ever air.

Watchdog Ofcom said in 2016 the word was 'highly unacceptable at all times' but could be used when 'strong contextualisation [is] required'.

Social media users blasted Lamdin and the BBC for using the word uncensored and so early in the day.

LBC producer Ava Santina posted: 'BBC News have just used N***** without bleeping, non-censored on daytime television. Read by a journalist. Terrible editorial decision.'

Freelance multimedia journalist Zab Mustefa put: 'I'm just wondering why you thought it's acceptable to drop the n-word in your report on BBC News?

'Didn't you get the memo? Non-Black people can never say that word, even when describing a racist incident.'

Another person posted: 'Actually can't believe they just repeated the n-word on my local BBC news during a report about a racist attack.

'Even with a warning, is there any need to say it? It's pretty easy to hint at what was said without using the word.

One woman commented: '@Fionalamdin pls come forth and explain the itching need? As you just racial slurs seems to suffice but you felt the need to push the boat out... Don't be shy pls do clarify...'

A man wrote: 'Good afternoon, as others have asked, I am also curious why you deemed it appropriate to say the n-word while reporting this story?

'I don't believe you can say that word even in a quote. In light of blm and the conversations on race these past months, I found it very offensive.'

One person tweeted: 'Still don't understand why that gave you the right to say the n word on national television.'

And one man added: 'Why did you make the choice to utter the N-word on daytime television?

'You're not a newsreader so I am not buying the whole ''reading off the script'' thing, you are correspondent who did a segment and decided yourself to include it your own script. Why?'

Avon and Somerset Police are still probing the racially motivated attack, which left the victim with a broken leg, nose and cheekbone.

Witnesses described how a car was deliberately driven at the man as he walked home from work at Southmead Hospital in the city.

Two men were heard to shout racial abuse at the man, a keen musician, before running from the dark blue Honda Accord.

The victim, who has not been named, will also require plastic surgery to his face and leg.

Neighbourhood Inspector Lorna Dallimore, of Avon and Somerset Police, described the incident as 'abhorrent'.

'The use of a car as a weapon could easily have resulted in even more serious injury, or worse,' she said.

'We're continuing to treat it as a racially aggravated serious assault and our inquiries are continuing at pace.'

A dedicated investigation team are being supported by officers from the force's Major Crime Investigation Team.

They are 'making good progress to identify those responsible for this incident', Inspector Dallimore said.

'We've carried out a full forensic examination of the car which was recovered from the scene and are awaiting the results of those inquiries,' she said.

The man, who has been affected both mentally and physically by the assault, said he wanted people to 'be aware' of what had happened

'We're also continuing to take witness statements, complete house-to-house inquiries and ensure we've done a full review of any available CCTV.

'I'd like to reiterate that a full investigation is being carried out and at this time, there is no intelligence or information to indicate there's a further risk to the public.

'Thankfully incidents like this are rare, and if anyone has concerns or worries then I would urge them to speak to officers with their local neighbourhood policing team.'

The victim, who has been recording music since 2017, said he felt 'lucky to be alive' following the attack.

He is facing at least six months of recovery time and is currently walking on crutches and sleeping sitting up.

'This has been an awful incident. I wish it had never happened. I am lucky to be alive,' he said in a statement issued through the charity SARI (Stand Against Racism & Inequality).

'However, it has happened and what I want now is to make sure it doesn't happen to any other person. I want to raise awareness about racism and I want people to stop this hatred.'

The victim said the two men and the attack did not represent city, which he described as being made up of 'many different communities'.

The victim, who is an NHS worker, had been leaving work at Southmead Hospital when he was attacked

Since the incident, he has been 'overwhelmed' by support from those who helped him at the scene, as well as friends and the local community.

'I want to thank the witnesses who came forward and those who helped look after me and get me to hospital,' he added.

'I want to thank the doctors and nurses who have done all they can to treat my injuries.

'I want to thank the police for all they are doing to try and bring these offenders to justice.' He said the incident had affected him both physically and mentally.

In a statement, Sari described the incident as 'horrific' and said it would continue to support the victim and his family.

The charity said: 'We would like to thank the police for their hard work to date as they proceed with their investigation.

'We very much hope that the offenders will be identified, charged and prosecuted as swiftly as possible so this appalling crime can be dealt with as it should and to prevent harm to anyone else.'

Chief Executive of North Bristol NHS Trust Andrea Young said the organisation was 'horrified' that such an attack could happen to 'one of our friends and colleagues'.

She said: 'Racism, in any form, has no place in our society and that an attack such as this can happen is shocking.'

Deputy Mayor of Bristol Asher Craig described the incident as 'appalling and sickening'.

'We stand in solidarity with this citizen and condemn the abhorrent behaviour of the perpetrators,' she said.

'No-one in Bristol, or anywhere in the world, should be subject to race hate crime and violence and we will do all we can to drive out this behaviour in our city.' 

In June the broadcaster received 23,674 complaints over an episode of Newsnight in which Emily Maitlis delivered an introduction about the Dominic Cummings lockdown row.

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