UK man held for racist abuse of Indian-origin journalist

The Leicestershire police on Tuesday charged a man who hurled racist abuse at an Indian-origin journalist as she prepared for a live broadcast after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new lockdown plans on television on Sunday evening.

BBC’s Sima Kotecha, who was preparing for the broadcast from the Leicester city centre, called it off after the abuse.

She tweeted: “Apologies to our guests who we had to send home without putting on air after myself and team were subjected to racist and abusive behavior – sad obstruction of reporting of a national crisis. Yes I’m furious”.

The police said Russel Rawlingson, 50, has been charged with “using threatening/abusive/insulting words/behaviour to cause harassment/alarm/distress following an incident in which a television crew were verbally abused in Leicester city centre on Sunday”.

Leicester in the east Midlands has a large population of Indian origin, many of whom settled there after being expelled from Uganda in the early 1970s. They and successive generations have rejuvenated local economy and hold senior roles in various walks of life.

A BBC spokesman added: “While preparing to broadcast, our reporter, her production team and guests were subjected to racist and abusive behaviour. We will not tolerate racism or abuse of our staff.”

Under UK lockdown rules, journalists are categorised as ‘essential workers’ and are able to move around in the country.

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