Jo Brand row: Police investigate battery acid joke

Nigel Farage is among those to condemn comedian’s quip about targeting politicians

Jo Brand is driven away after an appearance at a literary festival on Thursday. Photograph: Rick Findler/PA Wire

Jo Brand is driven away after an appearance at a literary festival on Thursday. Photograph: Rick Findler/PA Wire

 

A joke made by Jo Brand about throwing battery acid at politicians is being assessed by the Metropolitan Police following an allegation of incitement to violence.

The comedian made the joke on Victoria Coren Mitchell’s Heresy radio programme on Tuesday night, prompting criticism from Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, among others.

A police statement to the Press Association on Thursday said: “Police have received an allegation of incitement to violence that was reported to the MPS on June 13th.

“The allegation relates to comments made on a radio programme. The allegation is currently being assessed.

“There have been no arrests and enquiries are ongoing.”

The Press Association understands that the allegation reported to the police was not made by Mr Farage or the Brexit Party.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Mr Farage accused Brand of inciting violence, although he did not say who against.

He wrote: “This is incitement of violence and the police need to act.”

On Thursday, British prime minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said the BBC should explain why it broadcast Brand’s comments.

He said: “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 that 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 content for broadcast.”

Last month, Mr Farage was showered with milkshake during a walkabout in Newcastle city centre.

Complaints

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said it had received 65 complaints about the episode of Heresy.

The BBC has defended airing the remark.

A spokeswoman for the corporation 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.”

It is understood Brand will continue to work for the BBC.

In reply to a question about the state of UK politics, Brand had told the programme: “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?’

“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.”

At the end of the show, Coren Mitchell said she hoped Brand’s remarks had not caused offence, but added that the radio series had been set up to “test the boundaries of what it’s okay to say and not say”. – PA