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Jo Brand’s acid joke inappropriate but did not incite violence, says BBC

Ofcom has received 444 complaints regarding the comedian’s comments on Radio 4’s Heresy show in June.

Jo Brand was appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Heresy show in June when she made the comments (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Jo Brand was appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Heresy show in June when she made the comments (Isabel Infantes/PA)

By Abbianca Makoni, PA

A controversial joke about throwing battery acid at politicians “went beyond what was appropriate” for a Radio 4 comedy show but did not incite violence, the BBC has ruled.

During an appearance on Radio 4’s Heresy show in June, comedian Jo Brand – referring to political figures who had been hit by milkshakes – said: “I’m thinking why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid.”

After making the remark, Brand added: “I’m not going to do it, it’s purely a fantasy. But I think milkshakes are pathetic.”

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Jo Brand apologised for the joke, calling it ‘crass and ill-judged’ (Rick Findler/PA)

The comments were made on June 13 and Ofcom said it had since received 444 complaints about the episode, including one made through the BBC complaints process.

The regulator said it can only consider complaints if they have been through the BBC process first and the complainant is dissatisfied.

An Ofcom spokesman: “We are assessing the complaint against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate.”

Following the broadcast, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who just days earlier had had a milkshake thrown at him while campaigning in Newcastle, accused Brand of “inciting violence”.

Commenting on Twitter, he said: “I am sick to death of overpaid, left-wing, so-called comedians on the BBC who think their view is morally superior.”

The corporations Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) said it did not uphold the aspect of complaints on incitement of violence as it had “considered the context in which the words were spoken”.

A spokesperson from the BBC said: “We note the findings and that the BBC’s ECU concluded the comments did not condone violence and that no subject matter should be beyond the scope of comedy.”

At the time, Scotland Yard said a referral was considered but no further police action would be taken in relation to the allegation.

It was believed the allegation reported to police was not made by Mr Farage or the Brexit Party.

The comedian apologised for the joke, calling it “crass and ill-judged”, and the BBC removed the comment from its catch-up show.

PA

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