David Lammy says it is ‘simply not true’ he snubbed Comic Relief offer

Labour MP David Lammy has denied snubbing Comic Relief after the charity said he refused its offer to make a charity film in Africa.

He said it was “simply not true” that he did not respond to the offer, adding he had held two meetings with the organisation.

Mr Lammy claimed Comic Relief had “fallen short” of what he called its “public duty” to promote racial equality and serve minority communities.

It came after the backbench MP accused Strictly Come Dancing star Stacey Dooley of perpetuating “tired and unhelpful stereotypes” after she travelled to Uganda for a documentary ahead of Red Nose Day.

Comic Relief on Thursday made no apologies, saying the offer of a collaborative film was “still open”.

It thanked Dooley for helping people “working with or supported by Comic Relief projects tell their own stories in their own words”.

In response, Mr Lammy said he “was not prepared to become part of a PR exercise”.

On Twitter, he wrote: “It’s simply not true to say I did not respond: we had two meetings in my office. I had hoped – and still hope – your coverage would improve but Stacey’s post was more of the same tried tropes. As I told you before, I’m not prepared to become part of a PR exercise.

“It’s not about me making a nice film, but about you giving some of your very privileged platform on the BBC to the hundreds of African comedians, filmmakers, celebrities and everyday people who live on the continent.

“My job as a politician is to raise the issue. The people of Africa do not need a British politician to make a film. I want African people to speak for themselves, not UK celebs acting as tour guides.

“Comic relief has a privileged platform because of its unique access to the BBC. My constituents pay that license fee too. You and the BBC have a public duty to educate and promote racial equality. Previous Comic Relief films have fallen short of this.”

On Wednesday, Dooley shared pictures on her social media from Uganda, with one snap showing her posing with a young child.

Mr Lammy, who has been the MP for Tottenham since 2010, sparked the row when he said on Twitter on Wednesday that the 31-year-old investigative reporter was reinforcing unhelpful stereotypes about Africa.

He said his issue was not “personal” with Dooley and he does not question her “good motives”.

Instead, he said he had a problem with “British celebrities” being flown out to Africa by Comic Relief to make films that send “a distorted image” of the continent and perpetuate “an old idea from the colonial era”.

Dooley replied, inviting Mr Lammy to travel to Africa himself.

Red Nose Day takes place on March 15.

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