Comedian Frankie Boyle today told the High Court of his shock at being described as "racist" in a tabloid newspaper article – claiming the newspaper "misunderstood" the context of his use of language in jokes.
Boyle said he thought racism was at the heart of British Government policy – and the racist views of some people in power trickled through society.
He said the "racist" description went against "everything" he had tried to do.
Boyle was giving evidence on the second day of a trial in London after complaining that the Daily Mirror had libelled him by describing him as "racist comedian Frankie Boyle" in an article.
Daily Mirror publisher Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) is defending its article, published on July 19 2011.
MGN lawyers have described Boyle as a "racist comedian" who gratuitously exploits negative stereotypes of black people for "cheap laughs".
Jurors were shown footage from the BBC satirical show Mock The Week in which Boyle and other comedians discussed immigration.
Boyle told jurors he was "pretending" to be someone with racist views during the episode.
He said he "despises" people with such views and thought it "important" to mock them.
"I don't think British people are racist," Boyle told jurors, on the second day of the trial.
"I think it is a top down thing. I think you have a lot of rich and Conservative people who control our country who are racist and their views trickle down through things like tabloid papers."
He added: “I think there is racism at the heart of British policy and has been both in Labour and Conservative times."
Boyle said he was "shocked" by the "racist" description in the article – which also called him a "vile comic".
"It just went against everything I've tried to do in my life and against everything I've tried to do in my work," he said.
"There's a principle. Being called racist is not like being called vile. It's an extra serious thing, it's an extra serious claim."
He said he thought most people think of him as "the most anti-racist comedian" in Britain.
The hearing continues.