BBC apology sought for report suggesting anti-Semitic abuse victims responded with anti-Muslim slurs

The BBC headquarters in London pictured in 2013 - In Pictures
The BBC headquarters in London pictured in 2013 - In Pictures

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has called on the BBC to apologise after a report suggested victims of anti-Semitic abuse had responded with anti-Muslim slurs, when they were actually calling out for help in Hebrew, the group has said.

The incident occured last Monday evening when a group was filmed approaching a private bus on Oxford Street in central London.

Footage from the night shows men spitting at the bus, and directing anti-Semitic abuse towards Jewish passengers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the video as “disturbing”.

The Metropolitan Police are treating the incident as a hate crime, and have released images of three men they wish to identify in connection with the incident.

In its original report, BBC News said that “racial slurs about muslims could be heard inside the bus”, an allegation that has been criticised by organisations including the Campaign Against Antisemitism and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

BBC correction

On December 3, BBC News published a correction, stating that, “During the editing process a line was added to this article reporting that racial slurs about Muslims could be heard inside the bus.

“This line has been amended to make clear that 'a slur about Muslims' could be heard.”

However, the Board of Deputies of British Jews have questioned this assertion from the BBC, claiming that the journalist may have thought they heard an alleged anti-Muslim slur in English, but they say what can actually be heard is one of the passengers saying in Hebrew, “Call someone, it’s urgent.”

The organisation said on Twitter: “What they were actually hearing was a distressed Jewish man speaking in Hebrew appealing for help.”

A spokesperson for the BBC told the Telegraph: “The article is about the police’s appeal for information. The main focus is the actions of the individuals the police want to identify.

“The audio appears to show that a slur can be heard coming from the bus. We have changed our story to clarify only one such slur can be heard clearly.”

'No place for hate crime'

Detective Inspector Kevin Eade from the Met's Central West Command said: “This was a deeply upsetting incident for a community group who were celebrating the Jewish festival, Hanukkah.

"There is no place in our city for hate crime. Everyone should be able to enjoy their lives without harassment and I urge anyone who can name the individuals pictured to contact police without delay.”

Officers have confirmed that no one was injured, and have also asked the public for help identifying a woman present shortly before the incident occurred, described as being aged between 25 and 30, dark skinned with long black hair.

Anyone who has information or footage relating to the incident can Tweet @MetCC quoting 6184/29Nov, call the Charing Cross Hate Crime Unit direct on 07900 608 252 or email AWMailbox-.HateCrimeUnit@met.police.uk.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting