THE BBC’s LGBT correspondent Ben Hunte has revealed he was subjected to racist and homophobic abuse following a tweet by Laurence Fox.
In the tweet, which has now been deleted, Fox shared a screenshot of Hunte on BBC News along with the caption: “So glad I’m not paying for this anymore” and a defund the BBC hashtag.
Yesterday, Hunte revealed that he and his family had been subjected to abuse following the publication social media post, adding that he had reported the matter to the police.
He tweeted: “My family and I have been sent racist and homophobic abuse following the below screenshot of me being posted. I am fine – but I will let the police take over.
“If you disagree with my job, or with the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines, or with wider LGBT-related decisions I am not involved in, please do not contact my family with hate. Please use the BBC’s complaints process.”
He added: “I am doing my job to the best of my abilities. I am proud of being a journalist and so grateful to those who share their experiences with me.”
Hunte is the broadcaster’s first correspondent dedicated to reporting on LGBT issues.
Since he shared how the tweet had impacted him and his family, a number of journalists have publicly supported the young reporter.
Journalist Hannah Ajala tweeted: “Appreciate you for all you’re doing Ben!”
Veteran BBC journalist John Simpson tweeted: “Deeply depressing that my excellent colleague, the BBC’s LGBT correspondent Ben Hunte, should have received racist and homophobic abuse in the wake of an unpleasant tweet by @LaurenceFox which talked about ‘defunding’ the BBC. Fox should know better.”
The NUJ has called on the BBC to do all it can to protect and support journalists who receive online abuse, describing it as alarmingly on the rise.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “It is beyond appalling and disgraceful that Ben Hunte, the BBC LGBT’s correspondent, has been subjected to racist and homophobic abuse following Lawrence Fox’s tweet. No journalist simply doing their job should be subjected to such harassment and hate-filled comments. It is right that the police are now involved.
“The BBC must do all it can to protect and support its staff subjected to online abuse and the union will also be there for him.”
In a tweet the BBC said it won’t tolerate abuse and threats aimed at its journalists and directed people who wanted to make complaints about editorial decisions to an online form.
After being made aware of Hunte’s experience, Fox said he was “saddened to hear” about the abuse.
“It’s horrible and I know exactly how you feel. My view is that the BBC is increasingly identitarian and divisive and should be defunded. I believe in people, not acronyms,” Fox tweeted.