BBC Radio Devon's David Lowe 'fell on his sword' over the incident
Prime Minister David Cameron has said it’s “unfair” that a DJ lost his job after playing a song which contained racist terminology.
BBC Radio Devon DJ David Lowe said he was unaware that a 1932 version of ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On’ included the n-word. Mr Lowe, who has been a broadcaster for 32 years, said it was an “innocent mistake”. Speaking this morning on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Cameron commented that it was “slightly unfair” that Lowe had resigned.
“I don’t run the BBC but it does seem in this case that if you really didn’t know what was on the record, it does seem slightly unfair,” said the PM, via BBC News. “I don’t know all the facts of the case, but from reading the papers like everyone else, it looked a bit odd.”
Lowe said he had offered to make an on-air apology, but BBC bosses refused the idea although his resignation was accepted. The BBC have since said they believe the situation could’ve been handled better, and have offered Mr Lowe his job back. Despite this, Lowe said the incident had exacerbated a stress-related condition and he would not be returning to the corporation.
The second verse of the song, recorded by the UK dance band Ambrose And His Orchestra, features the line: “He’s been tanning [n-word] out in Timbuktu, now he’s coming back to do the same to you.” Later versions of the song omit the offensive word.
The BBC took action after a listener heard the song broadcast on Mr Lowe’s Sunday night programme and complained. Mr Lowe told BBC News he had written an “unreserved apology” for use on air which he submitted to BBC managers after the song was played on April 27.
“I offered to apologise or to fall on my sword,” he said. “Unfortunately the BBC decided on the latter option. I don’t have any quarrels with any of my colleagues. It’s the system of political correctness which has turned this into a rather badly handled affair. I think we’re all too ready to bow to political correctness. One feels one is following a verbal tightrope, even in casual conversation. I made a silly mistake, my first error in more than 30 years of broadcasting. I am deeply embarrassed by it.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “We have offered David Lowe the opportunity to continue presenting his Singers And Swingers show, and we would be happy to have him back on air. We accept that the conversation with David about the mistake could have been handled better, but if he chooses not to continue then we would like to thank him for his time presenting on the station and wish him well for the future.”
The incident comes after calls to sack the Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson were resisted by the BBC, despite unbroadcast footage showing him apparently using the n-word. He has since apologised.