BBC defends reporter who described Brexit celebrations as ‘very white’

PUBLISHED: 13:41 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:41 26 February 2020

BBC coverage from Parliament Square on Brexit day. Photograph: BBC.

BBC coverage from Parliament Square on Brexit day. Photograph: BBC.

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The BBC has defended a journalist who described events in Parliament Square on Brexit night as ‘very white’.

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The corporation received more than 200 complaints about the BBC News channel's coverage of the night the UK left the European Union on January 31st.

At least 209 complaints related to the fact that reporter Geeta Guru-Murthy, sister to Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan, described the Brexiteer celebrations as a "very white crowd" after interviewing three female Brexiteers.

Responding to the claims the BBC said Guru-Murthy "used the comment about the ethnicity of the crowd to move the discussion onto immigration and Brexit supporters' desire for more controls".

The corporation said the reporter made the remarks after speaking on and off-air and was told that the "main issue offered for why they supported Brexit was more control on immigration".

It continued: "Her question was whether this desire for more immigration controls had the effect of not being welcoming to black and ethnic minority people - which had been an issue that was discussed during and after the referendum campaign and a reasonable question on the night the UK was leaving the EU. So commenting on the ethnic mix of the crowd was giving context to the question.

"We should point out that none of the three of the women interviewed was unhappy during or after the interview about the line of questioning."

The number of complaints rose after talkRADIO presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer shared the clip on social media, fuming: "When she reports at the Notting Hill Carnival, does she point out the 'very black crowd' to the people she interviews too?"

It comes after Jon Snow made a similar remark on Channel 4 News about the pro-Brexit rally on March 29th in Parliament Square.

The regulator ruled the claim had been "sufficiently contextualised" and therefore not in breach of the Broadcasting Code

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