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Norwich MP Clive Lewis joins BBC backlash over Naga Munchetty reprimand ruling

PUBLISHED: 12:42 28 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:40 28 September 2019

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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Norwich MP Clive Lewis has tabled a Parliamentary motion calling for the BBC's decision to rebuke presenter Naga Munchetty to be condemned by fellow MPs.

Naga Munchetty, the BBC is facing a growing backlash over a decision to rebuke the BBC Breakfast host. Pic: Ian West/PA WireNaga Munchetty, the BBC is facing a growing backlash over a decision to rebuke the BBC Breakfast host. Pic: Ian West/PA Wire

It comes as the broadcaster faces a growing backlash after upholding a complaint against the BBC Breakfast presenter.

She had said, in a July BBC Breakfast broadcast, that United States president Donald Trump's call for a group of female Democrats to "go back" to their own countries was "embedded in racism".

It was ruled that Ms Munchetty crossed the line when she commented on statements made by Mr Trump.

She told her co-presenter Dan Walker: "Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism," adding: "I'm not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean."

Questioned further by Mr 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".

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But dozens of prominent black Britons have written to the BBC saying their position is "deeply flawed" and "illegal".

And Norwich South Labour MP Mr Lewis, a former BBC journalist, has tabled an early day motion urging MPs to condemn what he called "the peverse decision" of the BBC complaints unit.

The motion calls on the BBC to reverse the verdict and "defend the right of all journalists and broadcasters to reject blatant racism wherever it is expressed".

Mr Lewis said: "BBC journalists shouldn't be prohibited from commenting on evidently racist language at a time when racist rehtoric is having a real impact on people's lives".

The BBC's executive committee sent a message to employees saying that Ms Munchetty was justified in saying that telling someone to go back home was racist.

It said: "You will have heard a lot of comment over the past few days about the BBC and the reporting of racism.

"The BBC is not impartial on racism. Racism is not an opinion and it is not a matter for debate. Racism is racism.

"Naga Munchetty - one of our stars - was completely within her rights to speak about the tweets of Donald Trump which have been widely condemned as racist."

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