Have I Got News For You 'not offensive to gingers' | BBC rules on complaint © BBC

Have I Got News For You 'not offensive to gingers'

BBC rules on complaint

When Diane Abbott said Jewish people did not face racism, but prejudice similar to gingers, it was inevitably going to make Have I Got News For You.

But the jokes satirising the Labour MP for her antisemitism angered one viewer  who complained to the BBC that the section was offensive... to redheads.

The complaint went all the way to the Corporation's Executive Complaints Unit, which rejected it.

Abbot had the whip suspended in April after writing a letter to The Observer in response to racism targeted at Jewish people and Travellers.

She wrote: 'It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice. They undoubtedly experience prejudice. This is similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable.  But they are not all their lives subject to racism.'

The Have I Got News For You panel that week mocked her excused that the 'errors arose in an initial draft being sent' as if they emerged from the ether, and not something she wrote.

Comic Phil Wang said on the show: 'It's quite an extraordinary thing to say that redheads have been through the same thing as Jews. Can you imagine gingers wandering the desert for 40 years? They wouldn't last 40 seconds.

'The burning bush wasn't even a bush, it was ginger who forgot their sunscreen.'

The complaint, and the fact it was rejected, was revealed in a newly published report from the Executive Complaints Unit, although no further details were given.

Published: 4 Aug 2023

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