Britain’s iconic broadcaster, BBC, has reportedly suspended one of its DJ working for its Asian radio channel was found to be involved in a racist WhatsApp conversation with other staff of the station.
A report by Daily Mail said that the WhatsApp group, which allegedly indulged in racist, lewd and homophobic conversations taregtted at their own colleagues also included its star presenter, Tommy Sandhu.
Sandhu, according to report, was one of at least four colleagues, who allegedly formed part of WhatsApp groups sharing sexist comments and a derogatory term for Pakistanis. Staff members, who were allegedly involved in the racist conversation included Asheesh Sharma and Kejal Kamani, two radio producers, who routinely joined Sandhu on air, and a DJ known as DJ Sachy. Sharma has been given a final written warning while Kamani is understood to have been fired.
In one comments, one staff allegedly made lewd remarks about Amy Elizabeth Childs, who’s a producer with BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra. Their vile sexist comments also targetted a young assistant producer, Amanpreet Kaur.
BBC Asian Network staff in question also used the insta-messaging platform to make disgusting homophobic slurs, calling one colleague a ‘batty boy’ and another a ‘Gandu’ in a reference to his alleged homosexuality. They also called a colleague, currently a radio presenter on the same station a gay, even though he is married.
Their conversations also revealed how they had made deliberate attempts to not play music by Pakistani artists on the radio channel even though there is a BBC guidelines making it compulsory to include a certain percentage of Pakistani tracks into the playlist.
In one message the staff members allegedly called their own entertainment reporter, Haroon Rashid, a Paki, a racist slur used for south Asians living in UK. In another shocking message, one colleague was asked if ‘Paki’ had ‘converted you’ after he did a shift with DJ Noreen Khan show.
The matter came to light after one of the staff members involved in rascist messaging linked WhatsApp to a BBC laptop, which was accidentally accessed by Kaur.
The BBC has reportedly suspended DJ Sachy while launching a huge investigation into the sensational allegations.
A BBC spokesperson said, “We never comment on matters concerning any individuals working with the BBC. Any allegations of inappropriate behaviour would always be taken extremely seriously and would be dealt with swiftly and appropriately.”
Asian Network is the radio arm of the BBC catering to nearly 5% of the British Asian population living in the UK. In 2010, the station almost faced closure but was later allowed to continue with big cuts. Currently, the station receives annual funding of 7.5 million pounds.
The radio station was also in the centre of huge controversy after dozens of its employees complained of biases against Muslims by senior executives including the channel’s head Vijay Sharma. Among their allegations, the staff had alleged biases against Pakistani music and Muslim staff at BBC Asian Network. The BBC had launched a full-blown investigation, which later concluded that there was no truth in those allegations.
The latest development following the leaking of WhatsApp messages poses a huge question on the credibility of that investigation.