Jo Brand: Ofcom to take no further action over battery acid joke

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Stand-up comic Brand is a regular guest on TV and radio panel shows

Ofcom is to take no further action over Jo Brand’s controversial joke on BBC Radio 4 about throwing battery acid.

The media regulator said the comic’s remarks on satirical show Heresy “had clear potential to offend listeners”.

But it concluded her comments – made last June – were “unlikely to encourage or incite the commission of a crime”.

Ofcom said it also “took into account that Ms Brand immediately qualified her comments, making it clear they should not be taken seriously”.

The broadcasting watchdog said it had considered “the audience’s likely expectations of Jo Brand’s style – and of this established show, which sets out to challenge accepted views in society through provocative comedy.”

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Nigel Farage was hit by a milkshake while campaigning in Newcastle last May

Brand’s remarks came after Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and a number of right-wing European election candidates were hit by milkshakes during campaign walkabouts.

“Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?” she said, quickly adding that “I’m not going to do it, it’s pure fantasy”.

Ofcom said in doing so, “we considered Ms Brand made explicitly clear that she was making a joke and was not suggesting that her remarks should be taken seriously or as a call to action by listeners”.

The BBC initially defended Brand against claims she incited violence, saying her comments were “not intended to be taken seriously”.

But it issued another statement the following day saying it had removed the remark from its catch-up service and that it regretted any offence caused.

The corporation’s Executive Complaints Unit [ECU] later ruled Brand’s comments “went beyond what was appropriate” for a Radio 4 comedy show.

The BBC partially upheld complaints on the basis that the programme “was capable of causing offence beyond what was editorially justified” and the content therefore “should have been edited out before transmission”.

In its ruling, however, Ofcom said “issues of offence… involve finely balanced judgments” and that “the potential offence was justified by the editorial context”.

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