Snorter…BBC dismisses whinge about Have I Got News For You joke about Price Harry snorting cocaine

Posted: 22 June, 2014 in BBC
Tags: , ,
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Have Got News You Britain ebook Have I Got News For You, BBC One
25 October 2013

The complainant contacted the BBC about Have I Got News For You , broadcast on 25 October 2013. His complaint concerned a reference made to Prince Harry by the host, Jo Brand, when she was talking about the royal christening of Prince George. She said:

George’s godparents include [x] Van Cutsem. I presume that’s a nickname, in that [x] Van Cutsem and Harry then snorts ’em.

The complainant considered this an outrageous unfounded allegation . The complaint was dismissed at lower levels of BBC complaint handling but was escalated to an appeal to the BBFC Trust

The appeal was considered by the Editorial Standards Committee. The Committee noted the complainant’s concern that Have I Got News For You alleged

Without any evidence being provided, that a serving soldier who is also fourth in line to the throne has committed a serious criminal offence and breached the Army’s discipline code.

The Committee noted the response of the Complaints Director at Stage 2:

The nub of this, it seems to me, is whether a viewer might reasonably take from this that it was actually being alleged that Prince Harry was a cocaine user and I have to say that I think, on balance, that this is very unlikely. Have I Got News For You has a well established reputation for humour that is robust, often uncomfortably personal and sometimes simply grotesque. That alone, it seems to me, helps to guard against anything said on the programme being taken as necessarily true.

The Committee agreed with this view and also noted that it was in the tradition of British comedy to extract broad humour from the Royal Family.

The Committee did not believe that there would be a reasonable prospect of success for an appeal on the grounds that the programme had breached the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on Accuracy. The Committee therefore decided that this appeal did not qualify to proceed for consideration.

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