Jo Brand: The BBC can't sack me, I don't think I made a mistake

Undated photo of British comedian Jo Brand.  British police said Thursday June 13, 2019, they are “assessing” a joke by comedian Jo Brand, about throwing battery acid at politicians, a quip that has been condemned by Brexit Party chief Nigel Farage, who said the joke was “incitement of violence and the police need to act."(PA FILE via AP)
Police are “assessing” a joke by comedian Jo Brand, about throwing battery acid at politicians (Credit: PA FILE via AP)

Jo Brand has pulled out of an Alzheimer's Society event following controversy over her joke about throwing battery acid over Nigel Farage.

The comic was due to attend the event, with Buzz Bingo, in London on Saturday.

Sinead Donoghue, head of corporate partnerships at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Unfortunately in light of recent events, Jo's schedule has now changed and she's not able to attend the Buzz Bingo event, celebrating their contribution to Alzheimer's Society."

Earlier today, Brand issued a half-hearted apology for her battery acid joke, adding, “I don’t think I have anyone to answer to.”

The 61-year-old comedian faces a police investigation and has been reprimanded by the Prime Minister after remarking on a Radio 4 show that those throwing milkshakes at politicians should use battery acid instead.

Brand, known for her sarcastic style of delivery, reportedly told an audience in Henley on Thursday night: “Looking back it probably was somewhat a crass and ill-judged joke that might upset people. Of course I’d never do anything like that. It was purely a fantasy. I’m sorry. I’m a human, I make mistakes.”

But she added: “I don’t think it’s a mistake. If you think it is I’m happy to accept that.”

Read more: PM calls upon BBC to explain why Jo Brand joke was broadcast

The sometime Have I got News For You host added: “Female politicians and public figures are threatened day in, day out, with far worse things than battery acid . . . rape, murder and what have you.

“At least I’m here and trying to explain what I did. I don’t think I have anyone to answer to. Nigel Farage wasn’t even mentioned by me on the night so why he has taken it upon himself I don’t know.”

Nigel Farage has accused Jo Brand of inciting violence following a joke she made on the radio (Credit: Getty Images/PA)
Nigel Farage has accused Jo Brand of inciting violence following a joke she made on the radio (Credit: Getty Images/PA)

Brand, who works for the BBC on a freelance basis added: “I’m not employed by the BBC, so how can they sack me?”

It has emerged the BBC had 22 days to edit her joke from the show, which was pre-recorded on May 21. The episode is no longer available on the BBC Sounds app.

Downing Street has called upon the BBC to explain why it broadcast Jo Brand’s comment on discussion show Heresy on Tuesday night.

Theresa May’s official spokesman 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.

“The Prime Minister shares this view. It is for the BBC to explain why it considers this to have been appropriate content for broadcast.”

Police are now investigating an allegation of incitement to violence.

Read more: Ricky Gervais calls BBC out for hypocritical treatment

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “Police have received an allegation of incitement to violence that was reported to the MPS on 13 June.

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

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

The BBC 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.”

As of Thursday Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom had received 65 complaints in relation to the episode of Heresy.

Following the Broadcast Nigel Farage took to Twitter to accuse the comedian of inciting violence and insisted “the police need to act”.