David Cameron: BBC unfair on Radio Devon DJ David Lowe

David Lowe
Image caption David Lowe said he had heard the song "hundreds of times" before but had never heard the n-word

David Cameron has accused the BBC of acting "unfairly" after a local radio presenter lost his job because he played a song with racist lyrics.

BBC Radio Devon DJ David Lowe, 68, said he had not realised the 1932 version of The Sun Has Got His Hat On contained the n-word.

And he said he was "horrified" when he found out.

The BBC said the affair could have been handled better and has offered the freelance DJ his job back.

'Bit odd'

The prime minister told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "I don't run the BBC but it does seem in this case that if you really didn't know what was on the record, it does seem slightly unfair.

"I don't know all the facts of the case, but from reading the papers like everyone else, it looked a bit odd."

The offending record was part of Mr Lowe's private collection and went out on his pre-recorded show, which was heard on BBC Local Radio stations across the West and South West.

A BBC spokeswoman confirmed the show was pre-recorded, but said it was "low risk" and "therefore did not require complex sign-off procedures".

She added: "The key point remains that we should not have accepted his resignation."

The second verse of the song, recorded by the UK dance band Ambrose and his Orchestra, features the line: "He's been tanning [n-word] out in Timbuktu, now he's coming back to do the same to you." Later versions of the song omit the offensive word.

Mr Lowe, a broadcaster for 32 years, said bosses had declined his idea of an on-air apology, instead accepting his offer to "fall on my sword".

He told BBC Five live: "I must have heard that recording hundreds of times over the years and featured it from time to time.

"I have never heard the n-word mentioned in the lyrics and I have never had a complaint after featuring it before."

'First mistake'

The BBC took action after a listener heard the song broadcast on Mr Lowe's self-produced Sunday night programme and complained.

Mr Lowe said he was "horrified" to find that the n-word featured in the song.

"I am usually pretty sharp on this sort of thing and it's the first time I have made a mistake like this," he said.

Image caption A letter from the BBC to Mr Lowe accepts his offer "to fall on your sword"

He said what had happened had exacerbated a stress-related condition and he would not be returning to the corporation, despite the BBC's offer.

The BBC said: "We have offered David Lowe the opportunity to continue presenting his Singers and Swingers show, and we would be happy to have him back on air.

"We accept that the conversation with David about the mistake could have been handled better, but if he chooses not to continue then we would like to thank him for his time presenting on the station and wish him well for the future."

Mr Lowe's exit as a BBC presenter comes after calls to sack the Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson were resisted by the corporation, following the emergence of unbroadcast footage in which he appears to mumble the n-word.

The presenter of the long-running programme, the most-watched factual TV show in the world, has since apologised and says the BBC has told him he will be sacked if he makes "one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time".

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