Po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate Brand over acid joke

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Anita Singh and Christo­pher Hope

Jo Brand, the co­me­dian, is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated over al­le­ga­tions of in­cite­ment to vi­o­lence after she joked about throw­ing acid over politi­cians. The Metropoli­tan Po­lice said it had re­ceived a com­plaint about Heresy, the BBC Ra­dio 4 com­edy pro­gramme in which Brand made her com­ments. She had been re­fer­ring to re­cent milk­shake at­tacks on po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates, in­clud­ing Nigel Farage. Mr Farage said her com­ments were an “in­cite­ment of vi­o­lence”.

JO BRAND, the co­me­dian, is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by po­lice over al­le­ga­tions of in­cite­ment to vi­o­lence after she joked about throw­ing acid over politi­cians.

The Metropoli­tan Po­lice said they had re­ceived a com­plaint about a BBC Ra­dio 4 com­edy pro­gramme in which Brand made her com­ments. She had been re­fer­ring to re­cent milk­shake at­tacks on po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates, in­clud­ing Nigel Farage, on Heresy, an ir­rev­er­ent com­edy chat show.

Brand said: “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? She added: “That’s just me. I’m not go­ing to do it. It’s purely a fan­tasy. But I think milk­shakes are pa­thetic, I hon­estly do. Sorry.”

Mr Farage said her com­ments were an “in­cite­ment of vi­o­lence” and said the po­lice must act, although he claimed he did not make the com­plaint.

He said: “I’m go­ing to ask Jo Brand and the BBC whether they would like to con­trib­ute to the costs of keep­ing me safe,” a ref­er­ence to the thou­sands of pounds he pays for se­cu­rity. “This is way above any norms of free speech.”

He added: “Can you imag­ine if I was to tell a story like that, about some­body on the other side of me, Anna Soubry or some­one like that? The po­lice would knock on my door within 10 min­utes.”

Ap­pear­ing at the Hen­ley Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val yes­ter­day, Brand apol­o­gised “for any of­fence caused” and said her com­ments had been edited and taken out of con­text.

Ear­lier, speak­ing out­side her home in Dul­wich, south-east Lon­don, she was asked if she would con­tinue work­ing with the BBC and re­sponded: “I’m not em­ployed by the BBC, so how can they sack me?”

A spokesman for Theresa May re­ferred to Bren­dan Cox, whose wife, the MP Jo Cox, was mur­dered in 2016. “The Prime Min­is­ter has been re­peat­edly clear that politi­cians should be able to go about their work and cam­paign with­out ha­rass­ment, in­tim­i­da­tion or abuse. I note that Bren­dan Cox has said vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion should not be nor­malised and we should con­sis­tently stand against it. The Prime Min­is­ter shares this view. It is for the BBC to ex­plain why it con­sid­ers this to have been ap­pro­pri­ate for broad­cast.”

The BBC ini­tially de­fended Brand’s joke but after the po­lice an­nounced their in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ap­peared more con­trite and edited out the of­fend­ing lines for its Sounds app.

A BBC spokesman said: “Panel­lists of­ten say things that are de­lib­er­ately provoca­tive … but are not in­tended to be taken se­ri­ously. Com­edy will al­ways push bound­aries and will con­tinue to do so.” He added: “We re­gret any of­fence we have caused.”

Vic­to­ria Coren Mitchell, the show’s host, said that Brand’s com­ment was “an edgy, naughty joke from a kind and funny woman”. The po­lice said that in­quiries were on­go­ing.

Jo Brand, the co­me­dian, was un­re­pen­tant as she left her home yes­ter­day but later apol­o­gised

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