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Comedian Frankie Boyle criticises BBC 'rebuke'

30 April 10 20:47 GMT

Comedian Frankie Boyle has criticised the BBC Trust for a "cowardly rebuke" of a joke of his about Palestine.

The trust's editorial standards committee apologised earlier this week over his remark on BBC Radio 4 comedy show Political Animal in June 2008.

The Scottish comedian said Palestine was like a cake being "punched to pieces by a very angry Jew".

In an open letter, Boyle said the BBC was a "great institution" but "cravenly afraid of giving offence".

Race complaint

He wrote that he had been moved to tears after watching a documentary about life in Palestine and had promised himself he would do something.

Boyle continued to say that the BBC wished to "deliver the flavour of political comedy with none of the content".

He also criticised the BBC's decision not to air a charity appeal for aid to Gaza last year.

"It's tragic for such a great institution but it is now cravenly afraid of giving offence and vulnerable to any kind of well drilled lobbying," he said.

One person had complained that Boyle's original remarks were "anti-Semitic".

Apology issued

In December 2008, the BBC's editorial complaints unit agreed that the use of the word Jew in the context was "inappropriate and offensive", a finding endorsed by the editorial standards committee (ESC).

It said: "As a result, the committee wished to apologise to the complainant on behalf of the BBC for any offence the remark may have caused him and other listeners to the programme."

The ESC said "that the breach, while serious, did not require an apology or correction from the BBC online or on air".

The complainant was dissatisfied and took the issue to the BBC Trust, leading to this week's apology.

Boyle, 37, found himself in hot water again recently when the mother of a five-year-old girl with Down's syndrome criticised him for poking fun at people with the condition during a live show.

And last year, BBC Two's Mock The Week was criticised by the BBC Trust over comments Boyle made on the show about swimmer Rebecca Adlington's appearance.

Another complaint against Mock The Week, relating to a comment Boyle made about the Queen, was not upheld as a breach of editorial standards by the trust.

The BBC Trust said it had no further comment.

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