Kelvin MacKenzie mulls Ofcom impartiality complaint against Channel 4 over newsreader wearing hijab - Press Gazette

Kelvin MacKenzie mulls Ofcom impartiality complaint against Channel 4 over newsreader wearing hijab

Kelvin MacKenzie has defended his column questioning whether a newsreader wearing a hijab should have presented Channel 4 coverage of the Nice terrorist attacks.

In his latest Sun column he has pointed out that ten years ago then BBC director of news Helen Boaden said: “Staff should not wear anything which hints or directly points to a political or religious leaning.”

This was after concerns were raised about Fiona Bruce wearing a small cross while presenting the news.

He said: “The BBC Governors considered banning presenters from wearing any form of religious attire, as they felt it might call into question their impartiality, but in the end decided they would allow symbols as long as they weren’t ‘too big’.

“The hijab certainly fails the ‘too big’ test.

“I am the liberal in this argument as progressive female Muslims look upon the headscarf as a sign of submission.”

On Friday, Channel 4 newsreader Fatima Manji and her employer ITN both filed complaints to press regulator IPSO over the original MacKenzie column.

She says the comment piece was inaccurate, discriminatory and constituted harassment. IPSO has received more than 1,700 complaints about the article.

In his original article MacKenzie asked why Manji was not taken off the Channel 4 presenting schedule for a programme dominated by coverage of the Nice attacks (in which a Muslim man killed 84 people).

He said: “Was it done to stick one in the eye of the ordinary viewer who looks at the hijab as a sign of the slavery of Muslim women by a male dominated and clearly violent religion?”

MacKenzie said he his now considering filing his own complaint to broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

He said: “Since the question of religious motivation was central to the coverage of the Nice attack, I would ask whether it is appropriate for a newsreader to wear religious attire that could undermine the viewers’ perception of impartiality.

“A Muslim woman does have a choice.

“Baroness Warsi sometimes wears one, sometimes not.

“For television dealing in such sensitive issues, surely it makes sense that reporters, when dealing with Muslim terrorist outrages, don’t wear the headscarf.

“I will make my decision on Friday and may ask Sun readers who share my concerns to email Ofcom as well.”



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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette


1 thought on “Kelvin MacKenzie mulls Ofcom impartiality complaint against Channel 4 over newsreader wearing hijab”

  1. Let’s look at this from a dispassionate point of view and extend it to other situations. Manji is claiming that the original piece is discriminatory and constitutes harrassment. Let’s try this from another view. Are there any Jewish news presenters? Maybe there are, maybe not; I think the answer is that we don’t know, because I haven’t seen anyone with a visible Jewish symbol. But if there were a Jewish male presenter, would he be allowed to wear a kippah on-screen? And if he did, would C4 send him to cover a bombing in Jerusalem? Come to think of it, why are there no visibly Jewish presenters in C4’s Middle east coverage? Think about the answers, and apply the same logic to Manji’s situation.

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