LONDON: The BBC apologized Sunday for broadcasting a racist slur in a news report, saying it was a mistake that has caused many people distress.
The BBC included the word when reporting last month on a violent attack on a young Black man in Bristol, a city in southwest England. The attackers are reported to have yelled the offensive term as they ran into the 21-year-old with a car. The victim needed hospital treatment for a broken leg and other injuries.
The broadcaster has received more than 18,000 complaints about the use of the offensive word. On Saturday, comedian and broadcaster Sideman quit music station BBC 1Xtra over the use of the word and the corporation’s failure to apologize.
The BBC had previously defended the decision to use the word, saying it wanted to convey the racist nature of the attack. It had warned viewers that upsetting language would be used.
Director-general Tony Hall said in a memo to staff that the BBC’s intention “was to highlight an alleged racist attack.”
“Yet despite these good intentions, I recognize that we have ended up creating distress amongst many people,” he said.
Hall said that “every organization should be able to acknowledge when it has made a mistake. We made one here.”
Since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked anti-racism protests around the world, Britain's institutions — including the government, the BBC and the police — have faced pressure to confront their own legacies of inequality and bias.
On Sunday, a Black lawmaker, Dawn Butler, accused London police of racial profiling after she and a male friend were pulled over while driving through the city's Hackney area. Butler told Sky News there was “institutional racism in the police.”
“It is just tiring and exhausting and mentally draining," she said. The Metropolitan Police force said the car was pulled over because an officer had incorrectly entered its license plate number into the police computer and it showed up as registered to an address in northern England.
“Once the mistake was realized, the officer sought to explain this to the occupants; they were then allowed on their way," the force said in a statement.
Last week Butler, an opposition Labour Party legislator, was named one of the 25 women shaping the future by British Vogue.