BBC receives 8,000+complaints over Breakfast show report on migrants in Channel

The BBC received more than 8,000 complaints about a report on its Breakfast news show about migrants crossing the English Channel by boat.

A segment on 10 August saw reporter Simon Jones broadcast live from a boat that had pulled alongside a dinghy containing migrants, some of whom said they were from Syria.

He said: “We have seen them trying to get water out of the boat, they’re doing that at the moment, they are using a plastic container to try to bail out the boat.

“Obviously it’s pretty overloaded there.

“People are wearing life jackets, it is pretty dangerous, just the number of people on board that boat.”

After asking whether they were safe,  Jones remained with the boat until its occupants were picked up by the UK Border Force.

Some 8,340 complaints were made on the grounds that viewers felt the programme showed “offensive/insensitive coverage of migrants crossing the Channel by boat”.

The BBC’s complaints report noted that invitations to complain had been posted online.

A spokeswoman for the broadcaster said: “This report was a stark illustration of the significant risks some people are prepared to take to reach the UK.

“Channel crossings is a topic of huge importance and we always endeavour to cover the story sensitively.

“In this instance the Dover Coastguard were aware of the boat before our crew spoke to them and at no point did they, or those in the boat signal that a rescue operation was required.

“The Coastguards instead alerted Border Force, who then safely picked up the occupants and took them to shore.”

Another 508 complaints were made to the BBC over a news report which contained a racist term, additional to the 18,656 who initially objected.

During a report last month on a suspected racially-motivated attack in Bristol, social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin repeated the racial slur n****r which was allegedly used during the incident.

The story ran on the BBC News Channel and local news programme Points West on July 29, although later that day the broadcaster stopped running the report which featured the offensive language.

The corporation initially received a total of 18,656 complaints up to 2 August .

Between 3 and 16 August it received an additional 508.

BBC Two documentary American History’s Biggest Fibs, hosted by Lucy Worsley, also drew 158 complaints after using the racial slur.

It came during a repeat which aired on 1 August, tackling the subject of the US confederacy and the freedom of slaves.

Ms Worsley later apologised on Twitter, saying her use of the word “wasn’t acceptable and I apologise”.

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