Jeremy Vine has sparked more than 200 Ofcom complaints after suggesting Russian soldiers ‘deserve to die’ for taking part in the invasion of Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to move in on Ukraine two weeks ago, sparking heavy bombing across the country that has led to thousands of deaths and Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II.
On Monday 28th February, the broadcaster, 56, hosted a discussion on his Channel 5 daytime programme titled: ‘Would you go and fight in Ukraine?’
One caller rang in to the show and asked Vine: ‘What’s your problem with fighting Russians if they’ve invaded Ukraine? What’s your problem with doing that?’
They added that ‘Russia was [one of] our allies’ during World War II.
‘I don’t think they’re the enemies,’ they continued. ‘Quite a number of those Russians you’ll probably find will go across… they were holding their hands up this morning not wanting to fight the Ukrainians.’
The caller said that those soldiers invading Ukraine and fighting for Russia were ‘told lies by Putin.’
However, Vine challenged him, saying: ‘The brutal reality is that you put on a uniform for Putin and you go and fight his war, you probably deserve to die, don’t you?’
Within one week of the programme airing, 227 complaints were made to Ofcom.
Vine’s comments were branded ‘truly vile’ and ‘callous’ by viewers, with many highlighting that the soldiers were conscripted, as all male Russian citizens aged 18-27 must serve one year of active military service in the Russian armed forces.
Vine’s comments came just days before a tearful Russian soldier went viral for surrendering to Ukrainians who comforted him as he rang his mum.
The young man was seen drinking tea and eating a pasty as he was comforted by locals who offered him a phone so he could tell his family he was safe.
The young prisoner of war blew kisses as his mother answered and burst into tears as soon as he saw her.
As the man was looked after by locals, a male voice off-camera was heard saying in Ukrainian: ‘These young men, it’s not their fault. They don’t know why they are here. They are using old maps, they are lost.’
This is not the first Vine scandal that has led to a surge in Ofcom complaints, as only last month, the host’s daily show sparked nearly 800 complaints following a controversial debate on compulsory vaccines.
Jeremy Vine airs weekdays from 9:15am on Channel 5.
What is Ofcom and what does it cover?
Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.
The watchdog makes sure people get the best from their broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as keeping an eye on TV and radio.
Ofcom deals with most content on television, radio and video-on-demand services, including the BBC. However, if your complaint is about something you saw or heard in a BBC programme, you may need to complain to the BBC first.
Its rules for television and radio programmes are set out in the Broadcasting Code.
The rules in the Broadcasting Code also apply to the BBC iPlayer.
This Broadcasting Code is the rule book that broadcasters have to follow and it covers a number of areas, including; protecting the under-18s, protecting audiences from harmful and/or offensive material and ensuring that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.
Audiences can complain to Ofcom if they believe a breach of the Broadcasting Code has been made.
Every time Ofcom receives a complaint from a viewer or listener, they assess it to see if it needs further investigation.
If Ofcom decide to investigate, they will include the case in a list of new investigations, published in the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin.
An investigation is a formal process which can take some time depending on the complexity of the issues involved.
Ofcom can also launch investigations in the absence of a complaint from a viewer or listener.