Britain’s BBC apologized on Sunday for using a racial slur in a report about a racist attack, saying the decision to do so had unintentionally caused distress.
The report, about an attack on a National Health Service worker in Bristol last month, quoted in full the N-word allegedly used by the attackers.
The broadcaster initially defended using the racist language on journalistic grounds, leading BBC radio DJ Sideman, whose real name David Whitely, to quit the corporation.
Broadcast regulator Ofcom said it had received hundreds of complaints about the report.
Lord Anthony Hall, the director general of the BBC, emailed all staff on Sunday, saying, “It should be clear that the BBC’s intention was to highlight an alleged racist attack. This is important journalism which the BBC should be reporting on and we will continue to do so.”
“Yet despite these good intentions, I recognise that we have ended up creating distress amongst many people,” Hall wrote according to a report by PA news agency.
“The BBC now accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of broadcast and we are very sorry for that. We will now be strengthening our guidance on offensive language across our output,” he wrote.
The report described an alleged attack in which two men in the city of Bristol were suspected to have driven into a black man in a racially-motivated assault.
The discussion comes alongside increasing awareness about racial justice, after global demonstrations and protests unleashed by the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer in the US.