Boris Johnson: Treatment of BBC Radio Devon DJ in racist lyric row 'utterly disgraceful' - Press Gazette

Boris Johnson: Treatment of BBC Radio Devon DJ in racist lyric row 'utterly disgraceful'

Boris Johnson has claimed the treatment of a veteran BBC radio DJ who says he was "forced" to quit because he accidentally played a song with an offensive racial term in it was "utterly disgraceful".

BBC Radio Devon broadcaster David Lowe found himself in hot water after airing an 82-year-old version of The Sun Has Got His Hat On which featured the lyric: "He's been tannin' niggers out in Timbuktu".

Johnson said Britain was living in a "Boko Haram world", in reference to the terrorist network that kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria. Boko Haram forbids Muslims to take part in any political or social activity connected to Western society and has killed more than 1,500 people this year.

In his Daily Telegraph column, Mr Johnson wrote: "In our own modest way, we live in a Boko Haram world, where it all depends on the swirling rage of the internet mob, and where terrified bureaucrats and politicians are borne along on a torrent of confected outrage.

"There is no consistency in the outlook of the Nigerian maniacs: they use weapons produced by the very capitalist system they claim to deplore, for instance.

"There is certainly no logic at the BBC. They should restore Mr Lowe to his job – if he will take it – and the entire BBC board should go down to Devon to apologise in person, and at their own expense."

He added: "Their treatment of this man is utterly disgraceful".

Johnson wrote that "a clerisy of self-appointed internet witchdoctors went completely loco – or perhaps boko is the word" when footage emerged of Jeremy Clarkson using the same word.

Lowe, 68, apologised to officials at BBC Radio Devon, but he said it fell on deaf ears.

Emma Clements, the station's acting editor, reportedly told Lowe that while he had "properly" dealt with his mistake, she thought it would be best for him to step aside.

After his exit, Lowe claims he was asked to say he was pursuing other interests.

However, he refused and made the reasons public through his website.

In his blog, he said: "It was a genuine error on my part, the first in 32 years. But given today’s unforgiving obsession with political correctness I have been compelled to pay a heavy price."

The BBC has offered him his job back, but Lowe said he declined because his departure caused him so much stress and flared up a medical condition he suffers from.

A BBC spokeswoman said the corporation admitted the discussion about Mr Lowe's future "could have been handled better" and said the "door remained open" should he want to return.

Prime Minister David Cameron also waded into the row, saying he thought the BBC was being unfair.

He told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "It does seem, in this case, where if he really didn't know what was on the record, it does seem slightly unfair."

He added: "The word in question is awful and unacceptable and people shouldn't use it, now let's be clear about that.

"We've come a long way as a country in trying to drive racism out of our country, and that is a really important thing."



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