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Monday, August 15, 2011
David Starkey's Newsnight race remarks: hundreds complain to BBC
The BBC has received more than 700 complaints about the controversial claim by historian and broadcaster David Starkey that "whites have become black" in a discussion about last week's riots on Newsnight.
Of those contacting the BBC, 696 were protesting about Starkey's comments, with 21 supporting him, complaining the debate was chaired poorly and he was treated "unfairly" as a result.
Media regulator Ofcom has also had complaints while an online campaign by an organisation called gopetition.co.uk demanding the BBC should issue a public apology for "unacceptable comments" had attracted more than 3,600 signatures by mid-afternoon on Monday.
The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, on Monday described Starkey's comments on race as "disgusting and outrageous".
Speaking at Haverstock School, his former school in Chalk Farm in London, Miliband said it was "absolutely outrageous that someone in the 21st century could be making that sort of comment".
He added: "There should be condemnation from every politician, from every political party of those sorts of comments."
Starkey's remarks, made during a debate about the riots on Friday's Newsnight, provoked an immediate storm of controversy, with BBC business editor Robert Peston tweeting: "David Starkey's nasty ignorance is best ignored, not worthy of comment or debate – though I fear there will be a media feeding frenzy".
CNN presenter Piers Morgan described him on Twitter as "a racist idiot" and said he had committed career suicide.
The majority of complainants said the BBC was wrong to allow him to express such a view and should not have had him on as a guest, or at the very least should have challenged him more robustly.