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'Harmful and offensive': Complaint against Katie Hopkins' Today FM appearance rejected

Hopkins had been discussing hate speech on The Last Word.

Image: Danny Lawson/PA

A COMPLAINT MADE to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) over Katie Hopkins’ performance on the Last Word on Today FM late last year has been rejected.

A woman had made a formal complaint to the BAI after what she described  as “the use of hate speech directed at migrants and refugees”. The Last Word was debating a report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) in October 2016.

The report had found that hate speech online and in traditional media, has “soared” since 2013. The item set out to ask at what point free speech becomes hate speech and what laws and guidelines are in place to prevent the latter being published in mainstream media.

To argue the claims, Hopkins was invited on the programme as was Hugh Linehan of the Irish Times. 

The BAI reported: “The complainant states that the distress of such a discussion, inciting the desire for people to drill holes in boats, implying the disadvantage of ‘migrant cockroaches’ surviving the holocausts, was imagery that was directly harmful and offensive to the complainant.

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“The material that was broadcast encouraged people to imitate acts damaging to the health and safety of others. The complainant believes that the item could have been broadcast by omitting the explicit use of offensive phrases and the focus on migrants and refugees.”

However, these claims were rejected. The BAI has said that Hopkins’ views had not gone unchallenged. In one instance, Linehan pointed out that when people like Hopkins are allowed to express their anti-immigration views, then it is incumbent upon all of us to ‘call them out as fascist bigots.’’

Today FM has said that, at no point, was Hopkins given free rein to express her opinions unchallenged – both Linehan and the presenter, challenged her several times throughout the discussion.

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