THE new presenter of Woman’s Hour Emma Barnett has been accused of making ‘degrading and vile’ comments about a guest, without realising she could be heard by her.
The 35-year-old host, who took over at the Radio 4 programme earlier this week, allegedly spoke about actress Kelechi Okafor over a Zoom call minutes before broadcast.
The comments related to allegations her guest previously made anti-Semitic comments — which Ms Okafor denies.
Ms Okafor, booked to discuss the #MeToo movement a year from the start of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial, said she was so disgusted by what she heard she pulled out.
She tweeted: ‘What I’ve just had to witness is absolutely degrading and vile. The host didn’t realise her mic was on as she was talking about me before the interview… Myself and the other people who would be talking during the segment could hear me being talked about like a d***head.
‘When she clocks the mic is on suddenly it’s, “Well Kelechi could you just explain to me because I’m trying to give you a chance to explain.”’
But Ms Barnett, who is from a Jewish background, stood by her remarks. She wrote on Twitter she had been sent a report ‘of what she (Ms Okafor) had said on her podcast supporting (presenter) Reggie Yates’s comments about Jewish male managers and profits’.
She added: ‘As Weinstein is also Jewish and was referenced as part of this same podcast, I was discussing with my producers the role of this guest in light of her allegedly anti-Semitic comments.’ Ms Barnett said she then spoke directly to Ms Okafor, but said she ‘denied the allegations and hung up’.
Ms Okafor later sent tweets saying: ‘The lies! The lies!’ and ‘the statement missed out allllllllll the expletives’.