Fiona Bruce criticised for asking only non-white Question Time expert to answer racism question first

BBC presenter Fiona Bruce faced awkward criticism on the latest Question Time after directing a question on racism straight to the shows only non-white panelist.

The veteran broadcaster was asking a question around racism in sport following coverage this week of allegations by Azeem Rajiq, and chose first to go to panellist Nazir Afzal. 

The former chief prosecutor responded by saying: "The brown person will answer first", prompting nervous laughter from the Question Time audience.

In response, Bruce asked: "So do you think that was wrong of me to come to you first?" to which he replied: "I think so."

Former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal responded to Bruce directing a question straight to him by telling her, 'The brown person will answer first'. (BBC)
Former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal responded to Bruce directing a question straight to him by telling her, 'The brown person will answer first'. (BBC)
Fiona Bruce responded to Nazir Afzal's comment by asking him if he didn't believe he should have been asked the question first, during the tense Question Time encounter. (BBC)
Fiona Bruce responded to Nazir Afzal's comment by asking him if he didn't believe he should have been asked the question first, during the tense Question Time encounter. (BBC)

"Well let's not do it then", replied the host, directing the question instead to fellow panellist Professor Jordan Peterson.

She added: "I'm not being sarcastic at all. If that's how you feel I respect that, let's go to Jordan."

The exchange was later referred to by MP Stella Creasy, who was also on the panel. 

She said: "All of us have a challenge to ask ourselves whether we are normalising forms of racism and actually I think that's what Nazir called you to account to Fiona tonight was to say we normalise the issue, 'if we're going to talk about racism we go to the person of colour first'."

Nazir Afzal later tweeted that he was not criticising Fiona Bruce. (Twitter/Nazir Afzal)
Nazir Afzal later tweeted that he was not criticising Fiona Bruce. (Twitter/Nazir Afzal)

Bruce replied: "In my defence I also try to go to everyone on the panel first."

Later in the programme, Afzal added: "The reality is that brown people, black people, people from minorities are tired of having to continue to describe how much racism we experience on a daily basis."

On Friday morning he tweeted: "I have no criticism of Fiona Bruce I made point that racism is something which everyone should have a view on, not just minorities If the subject was say child or domestic abuse, you wouldn’t just ask the victim it’s everybody’s business."

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq has this week described cricket in England as riddled with racism and broke down in tears as he described the "inhuman" treatment he had received to the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) panel.