THE boss of the BBC has intervened in a bitter racism row engulfing the corporation, by clearing a presenter found to have breached guidelines with comments about Donald Trump.
Director general Tony Hall announced last night he was taking the unusual step of overturning the ruling against breakfast TV host Naga Munchetty.
The broadcaster was judged to have ‘given an opinion’ after saying she was ‘furious’ that the US president had told four ethnic minority politicians to ‘go back’ where they came from.
But the finding of a partial breach by the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit provoked outrage from her colleagues. And more than 40 black stars, including Sir Lenny Henry, had signed an open letter calling for a rethink.
Lord Hall said in a letter to staff: ‘Many of you asked that I personally review the decision of the ECU. I have done so. These are often finely balanced and difficult judgments.
‘But, in this instance, I don’t think Naga’s words were sufficient to merit a partial uphold of the complaint around the comments she made. There was never any sanction against Naga and I hope this step makes that absolutely clear. She is an exceptional journalist and presenter and I am proud that she works for the BBC.’
Munchetty, 44, made her comments on BBC Breakfast on July 17 after Mr Trump’s jibe at the four Democrat congresswomen sparked controversy.
She said every time she had been told to go back where she came from it had been ‘embedded in racism’. And when pressed by co-host Dan Walker, she said she was ‘absolutely furious a man in that position thinks it’s OK to skirt the lines by using language like that’. The complaint from a viewer that prompted the ECU to investigate also referred to Walker but he was left off the published verdict, The Guardian reported yesterday.
A BBC source said: ‘They’ve chosen to interpret the complaint as only being about Naga and made her a sacrificial lamb. The process is a mess.’
Munchetty has not commented throughout the row but appeared to be in a joyous mood last night. She uploaded a clip on Instagram of her in a car with friends, singing along to Salt-N-Pepa’s Let’s Talk About Sex.