Hampshire Police launch racism investigation after Radio 4 phone-in

Hampshire Police have launched an investigation after a man used a racist term during an interview with a BBC radio presenter.

Wednesday, 29th June 2016, 8:16 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 9:00 pm

Sima Kotecha had returned to her home town of Basingstoke for the Radio 4 Today programme to ask voters why the town backed Brexit during the EU referendum by 52%.

In her report, a man said to her: “I think all the immigrants, they should leave the country, you know what I mean?”

When Ms Kotecha asked him if he was referring to eastern Europeans living in Britain, he replied: “Yeah, like, I’m not saying p**is ... I’m saying, like, all of them.”

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She then asked him if he had said the offensive word, and he answered: “No, I don’t mean - sorry love.”

She added: “That’s offensive,” to which he continued: “Yeah I know, no, I didn’t mean to come across, it’s all them, they’re not foreigners. We all bleed the same, we’ve got the same heart, just different coloured skins, you know what I mean?”

Ms Kotecha asked: “Do you not like Asians either?” to which he replied: “No, I do like Asians. I know I used p**i but I could come up with more offensive, you know what I mean? I’m not like that. I’m not racist at all in any shape or way.”

Ms Kotecha posted on Twitter: “In utter shock: just been called p**i in my hometown! Haven’t heard that word here since the 80s..!”

She received messages of support leading her to post: “Your messages make me SO proud to be British,” although one Twitter user, 3vimages, tweeted her saying: “You will NEVER be British as far as I am concerned.”

A Hampshire police spokesman said: “We can confirm we are investigating an allegation of racial abuse in Basingstoke that was reported on social media and we are making every effort to contact and engage with the victim.

“We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously and this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.”

The incident comes amid reports of an increasing amount of racist abuse across Britain following Friday’s referendum with Remain supporters blaming sections of the Leave campaign for stirring up tensions.