LBC early weekend breakfast presenter Steve Allen has been found in breach of Ofcom Rule 2.3 for potentially offensive material.
At the same time, Ofcom has said Steve was not in breach of Rule 3.2 for Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime.
It surrounds a broadcast made on August 28th 2015 when Steve talked about Chris Spivey, who had recently been given a suspended six month sentence for posting offensive comments on social media about the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby, the soldier murdered in Woolwich in 2013, which amounted to the harassment of Fusilier Rigby’s family.
“He’s quite clearly not only immensely stupid but thick at the same time. I’d have had him hanging from gallows, ladies and gentlemen”.
“We know all about internet trolls because they are generally people with mental health issues. This particular one here is a menacing looking bloke. He’s a nasty piece of work this one is. His name is Chris Spivey”.
“When you see him out throw things at him – bricks would be quite nice”.
“I’d have had him banged up immediately. He looks like he would enjoy a bit of prison life with a few other men”.
“You vile piece of filth…you stupid pathetic waste of space. People like you need taking out and just pushing off the end of the pier somewhere. Let you swim, preferably as far out as you can possibly get”.
“So you’ll like it then when I call, Chris, for people to egg you in the street and throw things at you, you know, because you are a vile piece of work. What a disgusting person you are. I hope to God he doesn’t live next to any of you – he’s in Rochford in Essex”.
“What an ugly person…perhaps we can come and daub things on the outside of your house?”
LBC bosses defended Steve’s words, saying they were tongue-in-cheek remarks, and that he has “a particular presenting style and tone that his audience were very familiar with”. Accordingly, listeners would have “noted from his typically acerbic delivery that the comments were not meant literally and thus would not have been likely to find them offensive or, where relevant, interpreted them as a direct incitement to commit a criminal or anti-social act”.
The Licensee added that “the exaggerated nature of the comments ensured there was no serious encouragement for listeners to take this action, and concluded that the presenter’s right to freedom of expression should be preserved “as it has to date in his 39 years of broadcasting on LBC”.
Ofcom found that the comments above had the potential to cause offence to listeners (breach of Rule 2.3) but took the view that listeners would have been unlikely to take literally, and act on, Steve’s Allen’s remarks which did not amount to any call to action. “Because we concluded that Steve Allen’s comments were unlikely to encourage or incite crime or lead to disorder, there was no breach of Rule 3.1 in this case,” Ofcom said.