BBC London exposé wins European award

Guy Lynn Guy Lynn oversees TV investigations for BBC London

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A BBC London report on racist discrimination by some estate agents has won a European Prix Circom award for investigative journalism.

The undercover investigation by Guy Lynn made national headlines last October after it showed agents boasting about how they could discriminate against people of African-Caribbean origin.

In a blog for the BBC College of Journalism, Lynn wrote that he was shocked about the "sheer number of agents who say they will do this" after he pretended to be a landlord for the story, which also aired on Inside Out London.

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is illegal for businesses to refuse to provide a service based on ethnicity. However ten firms told Lynn they would not let to African-Caribbean people at his request.

During the investigation, his black colleague Deane was denied viewings while posing as a potential tenant, although his white counterpart Jo was welcomed.

One agent told Lynn about discriminatory techniques such as ignoring calls, lying and fobbing off potential clients who were of African-Caribbean origin.

Another agent said 99% of his landlords didn't want tenants who were from African-Caribbean origin or other "troublesome" backgrounds.

BBC success

The story led to local protests at what was described as a "colour bar", and resulted in the Labour party calling for an urgent investigation.

Lynn, who recently won a Ruby award for his investigation, commented: "What moved me personally were the reactions from the public and the sense that we were able to give our audience a ringside seat on an illegal activity they would never normally be able to see."

The BBC dominated this year's Prix Circom awards, which celebrate the best regional TV across Europe. Inside Out London also won the Minorities in Society award for a special programme on grooming.

Phillip Norton, from BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, took the video journalism award, while BBC Midlands triumphed in the sport category for Late Kick-Off.

  • Details of the winners can be seen here

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