Posted on February 4, 2009

Thatcher Agent Wants BBC Apology

BBC News, February 4, 2009

Carol Thatcher’s agent has demanded an apology from the BBC after the former Prime Minister’s daughter was axed from working as a reporter on The One Show.

The decision was made after Thatcher referred to a tennis player as a “golliwog” backstage during filming.

Ali Gunn told radio station TalkSport that it was “absolutely outrageous” that her client’s conversation had been leaked to the public.

“They should be issuing us with an apology,” she said.

Thatcher was dropped as a contributor to The One Show on Tuesday night after talks with BBC bosses.

‘Fulsome apology’

However, the 55-year-old has not been banned from the BBC as a whole.

The corporation said it had hoped Thatcher would issue an unconditional apology but she had declined to do so.

Ms Gunn claimed she knew the identity of the person who had leaked the conversation, but declined to name them.

“Obviously they know what their agenda is and there is certainly an agenda behind this,” she said.

“I would like to say that this comment was made in jest afterwards in the green room over a drink and no-one objected to it at the time.

“I think it’s absolutely outrageous that the BBC has condoned this leak.

“They haven’t even disciplined the member of staff and frankly we issued a fulsome apology that was rejected by them. But they should be issuing us with an apology.

“I would say that if her name were not Thatcher we wouldn’t be talking.”

Her profile has been removed from the show’s website, which once described her “self-deprecating wit and tenacious spirit”.

Crowned queen of the jungle in the 2005 series of I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!, Thatcher was employed as roving reporter to file on a wide variety of issues.

Carol Thatcher will no longer work on The One Show after being reported for making an off-air remark, the BBC has announced.

The daughter of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher referred to a tennis player as a “golliwog” backstage during filming of the BBC One programme.

However, the 55-year-old will not be banned from the BBC as a whole.

The corporation said it had hoped Thatcher would issue an unconditional apology but she had declined to do so.

Her spokesman told The Times she made the remark in a conversation with the show’s presenter Adrian Chiles back stage and it was “meant as a joke”.

“Carol never intended any racist comment,” he said.

“She made a light aside about this tennis player and his similarity to the golliwog on the jam pot when she was growing up.

“There’s no way, obviously, that she would condone any racist comment–we would refute that entirely. It would not be in her nature to do anything like that.

“It is disgusting that we’ve had a leak of private conversations in the green room–the BBC has more leaks than Thames Water.

“Carol is mortified that anyone should take offence at a silly joke. She has summarily apologised.”

According to press reports, the comment was made during a conversation about the Australian Open tennis tournament, in reference to a player who had recently been knocked out of the men’s singles draw.

The BBC called speculation that Thatcher was referring to Andy Murray “wholly innaccurate”, adding she was definitely talking about a black tennis player. It declined to name the athlete.

Apology sought

The corporation said it considers any language of a racist nature “wholly unacceptable”.

BBC arts correspondent David Sillito said the row was about “what is and what is not acceptable to say in a workplace”.

He added: “People were upset by what she said in the green room and they complained.

“We understand she has not made the unconditional apology that they sought, and as a consequence of that, her position on The One Show is no longer tenable.

“As far as we understand she believes that it wasn’t racist, it was meant in jest.”

Conservative peer Lord Tebbit questioned the BBC’s decision.

“It does seem very odd that Jonathan Ross can be back broadcasting having made obscene, insulting remarks on the air, and Carol Thatcher, who said something which is allegedly highly offensive but which I rather doubt was meant to be so, in private, should be banned in this way,” he said.

“It is probably a bit of a way for the BBC to get back at Carol’s mother.”