Jo Brand’s acid joke inappropriate but did not incite violence, says BBC

A controversial joke about throwing battery acid at politicians “went beyond what was appropriate” for a Radio 4 comedy show but did not incite violence, the BBC has ruled.

During an appearance on Radio 4’s Heresy show in June, comedian Jo Brand – referring to political figures who had been hit by milkshakes – said: “I’m thinking why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid.”

After making the remark, Brand added: “I’m not going to do it, it’s purely a fantasy. But I think milkshakes are pathetic.”

Jo Brand apologised for the joke, calling it 'crass and ill-judged'
Jo Brand apologised for the joke, calling it ‘crass and ill-judged’ (Rick Findler/PA)

The comments were made on June 13 and Ofcom said it received 65 complaints about the episode.

Following the broadcast, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who just days earlier had had a milkshake thrown at him while campaigning in Newcastle, accused Brand of “inciting violence”.

Commenting on Twitter, he said: “I am sick to death of overpaid, left-wing, so-called comedians on the BBC who think their view is morally superior.”

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? pic.twitter.com/hCEFSCqMGI

— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) June 13, 2019

The corporations Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) said it did not uphold the aspect of complaints on incitement of violence as it had “considered the context in which the words were spoken”.

A spokesperson from the BBC said: “We note the findings and that the BBC’s ECU concluded the comments did not condone violence and that no subject matter should be beyond the scope of comedy.”

At the time, Scotland Yard said a referral was considered but no further police action would be taken in relation to the allegation.

It was believed the allegation reported to police was not made by Mr Farage or the Brexit Party.

The comedian apologised for the joke, calling it “crass and ill-judged”, and the BBC removed the comment from its catch-up show.

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