Fiona Bruce has apologised for referring to a member of the crowd as a ‘Black guy’ during an edition of Question Time.
Bruce, 59, is a BBC presenter who conducts a topical discussion show in which she chooses audience members to submit questions to a panel of politicians and other media professionals.
During the show’s Thursday broadcast, in which she appeared with a black eye and her arm in a sling, she referred to one audience member as a ‘black dude’ when selecting him to contribute.
The statement has subsequently been removed from the episode’s BBC iPlayer edition, and the corporation has apologised for the presenter’s choice of words.
‘I completely see why my statements last night caused offence,’ Bruce said in a statement posted by the BBC.
‘I have spoken to the audience member directly and explained that usually I can see and describe an item of clothing or otherwise to help sound engineers with a microphone find people in the audience.
‘Last night that was not the case as my view was obscured.
‘In the split second I had, the easiest thing to do would have been to ignore the audience member and move on, but I felt strongly that his voice should be heard.
‘Nonetheless, I feel it was wrong to identify him as I did and that’s why it was removed from the later edited programme.’
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘We regret the choice of words used to identify the audience member.
‘The intent was to ensure his voice was heard, however we recognise we should not have identified him in this way and apologise for any offence caused.
As a result, the iPlayer recording has been altered to remove this.
‘The show had been broadcast live at 8pm on Thursday on BBC iPlayer, and the recorded version, which was edited to remove the words, was broadcast on BBC One and is the version now available on BBC iPlayer.’
Bruce apologised earlier this year after being accused of trivialising domestic abuse during a Question Time discussion on Stanley Johnson.
On the broadcast, the father of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was referred to as a “wife beater,” with journalist and panellist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown adding that his history of alleged violence was “on the record.”
Bruce then interrupted and told Ms Alibhai-Brown and the audience: ‘I’m not disputing what you’re saying, but just so everyone knows what this is referring to, Stanley Johnson’s wife spoke to a journalist, Tom Bower, and she said that Stanley Johnson had broken her nose and that she’d ended up in hospital as a result.
‘Stanley Johnson has not commented publicly on that. Friends of his have said it did happen but it was a one-off.’
A statement issued later by domestic abuse charity Refuge, for which Bruce is a long-standing ambassador, said she was ‘deeply upset that this has been triggering for survivors’.
The charity said: ‘We have spoken to Fiona today, and she is appalled that any of her words have been understood as her minimising domestic violence. We know she is deeply upset that this has been triggering for survivors.’
They added: ‘Fiona is deeply sorry that last night’s programme has distressed survivors of domestic abuse. Refuge stands by her and all survivors today.
‘We continue to be appreciative of all the work Fiona does on behalf of Refuge and recognise the immense contribution she has made to our work to end domestic abuse and challenge violence against women and girls.’
A spokesperson for the corporation said in a statement: ‘Domestic abuse is abhorrent, and we would never wish to suggest otherwise.
‘When serious allegations are made on air against people or organisations, it is the job of BBC presenters to ensure that the context of those allegations – and any right of reply from the person or organisation – is given to the audience, and this is what Fiona Bruce was doing last night.
‘She was not expressing any personal opinion about the situation.’
Bruce has been hosting Question Time since 2019, succeeding long-serving broadcaster and journalist David Dimbleby.
Question Time airs Thursdays at 10.40pm on BBC One.