News, Culture & Society

Comedian Jo Brand apologises for her ‘crass and ill-judged’ battery acid joke

Comedian Jo Brand last night apologised for her acid throwing ‘joke’ calling it ‘crass and ill-judged’ – but insisted she still didn’t think it was ‘a mistake’.

The 61-year-old said ‘sorry’ to an audience in Henley, Oxfordshire as it emerged police will examine the remarks following an allegation of ‘incitement to violence.’

Brand sparked outrage after she said on Radio 4 show Heresy that yobs who doused politicians like Farage with milkshakes were ‘pathetic’ and added: ‘Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?’

Yesterday the backlash against her grew as victims of acid attacks called her comments ‘vile’ and ‘inhumane’ and demanded she was arrested. 

The BBC has since removed the episode from its iPlayer and released an updated statement in the wake of the outrage after they defied calls to sack her.

Brand told an audience last night: ‘Looking back it probably was somewhat a crass and ill-judged joke that might upset people. 

‘Of course I’d never do anything like that. It was purely a fantasy. I’m sorry. I’m a human, I make mistakes.’

She added: ‘I don’t think it’s a mistake. If you think it is I’m happy to accept that.’

The 61-year-old (pictured last night) spoke when she appeared at an event in Henley, Oxfordshire, after she sparkled outrage for her comments on a BBC Radio 4 show

The Sun reported that she added: ‘Female politicians and public figures are threatened day in, day out, with far worse things than battery acid . . . rape, murder and what have you.

‘At least I’m here and trying to explain what I did.’

‘I don’t think I have anyone to answer to. Nigel Farage wasn’t even mentioned by me on the night so why he has taken it upon himself I don’t know.’

Brand was photographed yesterday at the Henley Literary Festival where she was making an appearance.  

The sold-out shows revolve around a ‘darkly funny guide to being a woman’ and comes with a free book. 

Brand was met by a man with an umbrella as she arrived at an event in Henley, Oxfordshire today

The comedian initially refused to apologise for her joke about throwing acid

Brand (pictured arriving at a literary festival in Henley, Oxfordshire) yesterday initially refused to apologise for her comments, but later 

Audience member Emma Toward, 43, said afterwards: ‘She said she apologised for her comment, she said it was taken out of context. 

‘She apologised if she caused any offence. She was very genuine when she said it.

The comic faced photographers when she arrived to perform her stand-up show at a church in Henley-on-Thames, Oxon, yesterday afternoon

The comic faced photographers when she arrived to perform her stand-up show at a church in Henley-on-Thames, Oxon, yesterday afternoon 

‘She did say that only one bit of her comment which had been tweeted by Nigel Farage and it had been edited. 

‘The bit that had been missed from her programme was she also said, ‘Of course, I would never do that, and I don’t condone it [throwing battery acid]’.

‘The crowd were very supportive when she said it, there was lots of applause. She also took questions on it.

‘There was only one person who asked a question, and asked her was she angry with the editing by the BBC. She said, ‘of course not, they had a job to do’.’

Her apology came hours after she had refused to say sorry outside her £1.9million detached home in Dulwich, south-east London. She laughed as she as driven away in a car.

When asked if she would continue working with the BBC, she responded: ‘I’m not employed by the BBC, so how can they sack me?’ 

Earlier Nigel Farage had called her an ‘overpaid, left wing, so called-comedian’ as the backlash against her intensified.  

He called her remarks ‘completely and utterly disgusting’ after he claimed she was ‘inciting violence’ with her comments. 

Last night the BBC appeared to have pulled the show from its websites, and said in a Tweet it would edit the joke from future broadcasts and its catch-up service. 

What is the law on ‘incitement to violence’

The Metropolitan Police have received an allegation of incitement to violence in relation to Brand’s comments.

Section 59 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 abolished the common law offence of incitement, with effect from 1 October 2008.

Under Section 44 of the new Act – intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence – a person commits an offence if

(a) he/she does an act capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence; and

(b) he/she intends to encourage or assist its commission.

However the person is not to be taken to have intended to encourage or assist the commission of an offence merely because such encouragement or assistance was a foreseeable consequence of his act.

Those found guilty under this law can face the same punishment as they would face for the crime they were encouraging.

According to the Home Office, carrying out an attack with a corrosive substance can already result in a prison sentence of up to life, depending on the nature of the charges. Being found in possession of acid with intent to carry out an attack can mean a sentence of up to four years.

 SOURCE: www.legislation.gov.uk

Asked about the row yesterday, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: ‘Police have received an allegation of incitement to violence that was reported to the MPS on 13 June.

‘The allegation relates to comments made on a radio programme. 

‘The allegation is currently being assessed. There have been no arrests and inquiries are ongoing.’

The corporation has so far defied calls to axe her, and broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has so far received 65 complaints about the episode.  

The BBC are facing accusations of ‘hypocrisy’ after bosses decided to sack Radio 5 Live presenter Danny Baker over offensive behaviour, but stood by Brand. 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman also called on the BBC to explain why the joke was broadcast on one of its radio shows.

The spokesman said: ‘Theresa May has been clear that politicians should be able to go to work and campaign without fear. 

‘Brendan Cox, the husband of Jo Cox, has said that violence and intimidation should not be normalised and we should consistently stand against it. The Prime Minister shares this view’.

He added: ‘It is for the BBC to explain why they thought this to be appropriate content to broadcast’. 

Farage, who has called on the police to open an investigation into the remarks, said yesterday: ‘I am sick to death of overpaid, left wing, so-called comedians on the BBC who think their view is morally superior. 

‘Can you imagine the reaction if I had said the same thing as Jo Brand?’

In a video posted to his Twitter feed he wrote: ‘I think we know fairly clearly who Jo Brand was aiming that comment at.  

Brand (pictured), said on Radio 4 show Heresy that yobs who doused politicians like Farage with milkshakes were 'pathetic' and added: 'Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?'

Farage (speaking today) called the comments 'appalling'

Brand, 61, (left) said on Radio 4 show Heresy that yobs who doused politicians like Farage (right, speaking today)  with milkshakes were ‘pathetic’ and added: ‘Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?’

Acid attack victims slam Jo Brand’s ‘vile’ and ‘inhumane’ remark as they call on her and the BBC to apologise and say police should arrest her

Acid attack victims today slammed Jo Brand and called on police to arrest her after her ‘vile’ and ‘inhumane’ joke on a BBC comedy panel show.

Sophie Hall, who was injured when Arthur Collins, the father of The Only Way is Essex star Ferne McCann’s baby threw acid in a Hackney nightclub, was one victim to speak out today.

She said: ‘The police need to arrest her so others will think twice and realise it isn’t a joking matter, far from it.

Sophie Hall called on police to arrest Brand over her comments.

Joe Davies called her remarks 'vile' and 'inhumane'

Sophie Hall (left) called on police to arrest Brand over her comments. Joe Davies (right) called her remarks ‘vile’ and ‘inhumane’

‘Something so serious needs to be treated seriously. 

‘A lot of people watch her and she is obviously a big influence and for her to joke about something like that takes away the seriousness of the act.

‘We live in such a society today, that it’s sad to say there are some very psychotic people out there that she might influence to actually do something like that.’ 

She told The Mirror: ‘It’s upsetting that someone like that in the public eye could even make a joke about it. I think it’s absolutely outrageous.

‘She should never have joked about it in the first place because it’s not a joking matter.’

The horrific burns suffered by Joe Davies after he was doused in acid

The horrific burns suffered by Joe Davies after he was doused in acid

She added: ‘Jo should go and to a burns unit and see what it does and see if she can make a joke about it afterwards after seeing the trauma people have gone through.’ 

Collins was found guilty of five counts of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm and nine counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm at a trial in November 2017 after injuring 22 people. 

He was sentenced to a total of 25 years. 

Joe Davies, who was left with horrific injuries after having drain cleaner thrown on him called her joke ‘vile’ and ‘disgusting. 

Mr Davies, 25, told The Sun Online: ‘It’s disgusting. I can’t comprehend how someone could say that and anyone could stand by it saying it’s funny.

‘The BBC should apologise. It’s 100 per cent vile and 100 per cent not funny.

‘I don’t know what must be going on in someone’s head to make a joke like that about another person. It’s inhumane.

‘It sounds to me like she needs a bit of educating. 

Andreas Christopheros suffered horrific burns in a mistaken identity attack on his doorstep in Truro, Cornwall, in 2014

Andreas Christopheros suffered horrific burns in a mistaken identity attack on his doorstep in Truro, Cornwall, in 2014

Mr Christopheros with his son Theo and wife Pia

Mr Christopheros today labelled Brand and the BBC 'reckless and deeply stupid'

Mr Christopheros (pictured with his son Theo and wife Pia, left, and right) today labelled Brand and the BBC ‘reckless and deeply stupid’

Joe had drain cleaner containing sulphuric acid thrown at him by Roger Comer, 45, after an argument in Slough in 2017. Comer was jailed for nine years.

Andreas Christopheros, 33, suffered horrific burns in a mistaken identity attack on his doorstep in Truro, Cornwall, in 2014.

Today he labelled Brand and the BBC ‘reckless and deeply stupid.’

He told the Sun Online: ‘I’m all for comedy and free speech, I’ve laughed at acid attack jokes before, but this is different. 

‘It’s a reckless and deeply stupid thing to put out there on a radio show and both she and the BBC should apologise.’

‘A lot of people, like Jo Brand, think the referendum is a terrible mistake.

‘They have a view that is morally superior to everybody else’s and therefore it seems, that anything can be used in defence of their arguments.

‘Frankly I think this sort of behaviour is completely and utterly disgusting.

‘Can you imagine if I was to tell a story like that, about somebody on the other side of me, an Anna Soubry or someone like that? 

Nigel Farage called Jo Brand an 'overpaid, left wing, so-called comedian' as the backlash against the comedian intensified

Nigel Farage called Jo Brand an ‘overpaid, left wing, so-called comedian’ as the backlash against the comedian intensified

Nigel Farage said that Brand's remarks on the comedy panel show amount to hate speech and has called for the police to intervene. It came after Jo Brand (pictured) joked on Radio 4's Heresy that battery acid was a better option than milkshake for throwing at Brexiteers

Nigel Farage said that Brand’s remarks on the comedy panel show amount to hate speech and has called for the police to intervene. It came after Jo Brand (pictured) joked on Radio 4’s Heresy that battery acid was a better option than milkshake for throwing at Brexiteers

‘I reckon the police would knock on my door within ten minutes. I think it’s appalling.’ 

Pictured: Nigel Farage in Newcastle on May 20, when an activist threw milkshake on him

Pictured: Nigel Farage in Newcastle on May 20, when an activist threw milkshake on him

Yesterday Brand’s friend Frank Skinner defended her when he appeared on ITV’s Loose Women.

He said: ‘I think it is difficult to say anything in public life at all. 

‘When kids play Hangman, is that a devil may care attitude to capital punishment? 

‘I don’t think Jo, for one second, would want anyone to commit an act of violence – even against Nigel Farage. 

‘I think most people would see Farage as not one of the peacemakers, they would see him as one of the people who fueled the fire. 

‘I remember when Margaret Thatcher died, as a young man I had said I hated [her] but the truth is, when it comes down to it, it was this rather sad old woman with dementia and I didn’t feel any of that hate.

‘We live in a society where people find it much easier to say hate than love about anything. Especially on twitter.

‘It is a weird time at the moment where people are very angry about various things but you have got to have jokes.’

The sister of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox also spoke out on the scandal.

Kim Leadbeater told ITV’s Loose Women: ‘If something is illegal, there is a very clear line, but when we think about morality and how we speak to each other, who sets the moral compass of the nation? 

‘And are the rules the same for politicians as they are for comedians? The main thing for me is about personal responsibility, we have got a responsibility to think about the things that we say and do.’ 

On the Radio 4 panel show, broadcast on Tuesday night, Coren asked Brand whether she believed the country was united in agreeing we are living through a ‘terrible’ time in politics.

She responded by calling milkshake a ‘pathetic’ thing for people to have thrown at their political opponents during May’s EU election campaigning.   

She said: ‘Well yes I would say that, but I think that’s because certain unpleasant characters are being thrown to the fore and they’re very, very easy to hate. 

‘And I’m kind of thinking, ‘why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?’

‘I’m not going to do it, it’s purely a fantasy, but I think milkshakes are pathetic, I honestly do, sorry.’ 

A BBC spokeswoman said: ‘Heresy is a long-running comedy programme where, as the title implies and as our listeners know, panellists often say things which are deliberately provocative and go against societal norms but are not intended to be taken seriously. 

‘We carefully considered the programme before broadcast. It was never intended to encourage or condone violence, and it does not do so, but we have noted the strong reaction to it. 

‘Comedy will always push boundaries and will continue to do so, but on this occasion we have decided to edit the programme. We regret any offence we have caused.’

The Corporation said Brand would ‘remain part of the Radio 4 family’. 

Brand told reporters outside her home today that she was ‘not employed by the BBC’ and could not be fired.

The Radio Four Extra show Heresy is produced by Avalon Television rather than in-house for the BBC, and the named producers are Victoria Coren-Mitchell and Daisy Knight.

Brand’s comments follow milkshake attacks on Farage in Newcastle on May 20 and on World War II veteran Don MacNaughton as he campaigned for the party in Aldershot.

Milkshakes were also thrown at English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin, also known as YouTube personality Sargon of Akkad, who in 2016 tweeted ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’ to Labour MP Jess Phillips. 

Brendan Cox, whose Labour MP wife Jo Cox was murdered by a neo Nazi fanatic in June 2016, said: ‘I dislike Nigel Farage’s politics profoundly.

‘But I don’t think throwing stuff at politicians you disagree with is a good idea. It normalises violence and intimidation and we should consistently stand against it.’

The Brexit Party leader was covered in the drink by a protester as he took his EU election campaign to Newcastle on May 20

The Brexit Party leader was covered in the drink by a protester as he took his EU election campaign to Newcastle on May 20

Many accused the BBC of hypocrisy questioning why the BBC had sacked Danny Baker for his allegedly racist tweet about the royal baby, but have not axed Brand.

Broadcaster Piers Morgan tweeted: ‘Why did the BBC instantly sack Danny Baker for an offensive royal baby tweet but won’t sack for saying she’d like acid to be thrown at politicians?’

Another user posted: ‘It’s a joke, however it was on the BBC and they fired Danny Baker for a vile joke and to me this is worse. Therefore the BBC should issue the same treatment for Jo Brand.’  

The host of BBC's Heresy, Victoria Coren Mitchell, responded to Nigel Farage's tweet that Jo Brand's joke was an incitement of violence

The host of BBC’s Heresy, Victoria Coren Mitchell, responded to Nigel Farage’s tweet that Jo Brand’s joke was an incitement of violence

The joke triggered outrage on social media and was branded 'shameful' and 'disgusting'

The joke triggered outrage on social media and was branded ‘shameful’ and ‘disgusting’

Leave.EU tweeted: ‘Absolutely disgusting remark by so-called ‘comedian’ Jo Brand, who suggested last night on @BBCRadio4 that we throw battery acid at our politicians. 

‘Is this sort of hate speech what we fund the @BBC for? Shameful!’

Judith Bowler responded: ‘Wow! If ‘Jo public’ made such a suggestion they would be arrested. 

‘Jo Brand used to be a comedian. Now, sadly, she is an idiot using her public presence to incite hatred and criminal acts.’ 

But others disagreed with critics because the the comments were made on a comedy show that bills itself as a ‘discussion programme which challenges established ideas and questions received wisdom’.

Victoria Coren Mitchell, the host of the show, she tweeted: ‘Nigel, I’m genuinely disappointed; we don’t agree on everything but I would totally have had you down as a free speech man. Especially when it comes to jokes.’ 

TV comedian Lee Hurst tweeted: ‘Jo Brand is a comedian. She has made a joke. You may not find it funny or you may find it funny. Comedy is subjective.

‘If you criticise her because you like her target, but defend other jokes of a similar nature against targets you don’t like you are a hypocrite.’ 

Tom Slater, deputy editor at the website Spiked, a pro-Brexit magazine which campaigns on Free Speech issues, also said a police investigation would be wrong. 

‘My magazine spiked supports the Brexit Party in its fight for democracy,’ he said. ‘But Nigel Farage’s comments today suggest he is far more cavalier when it comes to freedom of speech. 

‘He seems to suggest comedians should be criminalised for telling jokes. That is deeply authoritarian. Comedians are meant to say risqué things.

‘No one in their right mind would deem Jo Brand’s comments incitement to violence. It seems there are as many snowflakes on the right as on the left these days.’

A BBC spokesman said: ‘Heresy is a long-running comedy programme where, as the title implies and as our listeners know, panellists often say things which are deliberately provocative and go against societal norms but are not intended to be taken seriously.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.