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BBC ‘very sorry’ over use of racist term in news report

The BBC has apologised for a news report which contained a racist term, with its director general saying it “made a mistake”.

The BBC News story saw social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin repeat the n-word, which was allegedly used in a racially-motivated attack in Bristol.

It ran on the BBC News Channel and local news programme Points West on 29 July, but the broadcaster stopped running it later that day.

On Saturday, BBC 1Xtra presenter Sideman resigned over the use of the term, saying it felt like “a slap in the face to our community”.

Initially, the BBC said it was aware the n-word would cause offence but said it was used as “we felt the need to explain, and report, not just the injuries but, given their alleged extreme nature, the words alleged to have been used”.

Sideman called the use of the N-word in the report an 'error of judgement'
Image: Sideman called the use of the n-word in the report an ‘error of judgement’

But on Sunday, BBC director general Lord Tony Hall said the corporation “now accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of broadcast”, adding that it would be “strengthening our guidance on offensive language”.

In an email to staff, Lord Hall said: “We are proud of the BBC’s values of inclusion and respect, and have reflected
long and hard on what people have had to say about the use of the n-word and all racist language both inside and outside the organisation.

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“It should be clear that the BBC’s intention was to highlight an alleged racist attack. This is important journalism which the BBC should be reporting on and we will continue to do so.

“Yet despite these good intentions, I recognise that we have ended up creating distress amongst many people.”

On Thursday, the BBC said it had received 18,656 complaints over the news report.

Announcing his resignation from BBC 1Xtra, Sideman said the use of the n-word was “an error in judgement where I can’t just smile with you through the process”.

In a video posted on Instagram, he said: “I’m happy working with organisations until we all get it right, but this feels like more than getting it wrong.

“The action and the defence of the action feels like a slap in the face to our community.”

He added: “Money and opportunity doesn’t outweigh the dissatisfaction that I feel with this situation.

“This is wild to me, especially in the current social climate, and I can’t make any sense of it no matter how much I think about it, so I think it is time that I left.”

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