Sima Kotecha was lining up her guests to comment on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s televised address to the nation on the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown on Sunday evening when she had to cancel the broadcast amid the abuse.
“While preparing to broadcast, our reporter, her production team and guests were subjected to racist and abusive behaviour. We will not tolerate racism or abuse of our staff,” a BBC spokesperson said.
The incident was reported to Leicestershire Police, which launched an investigation and arrested Russell Rawlingson at an address in Leicester on Monday.
“A 50-year-old man has been charged with using threatening/abusive/insulting words/behaviour to cause harassment/alarm/distress following an incident in which a television crew were verbally abused in Leicester city centre on Sunday evening,” a Leicestershire Police statement said.
Rawlingson was produced before Leicester Magistrates’ Court for a remand hearing on Tuesday.
Taking to social media soon after the incident, Kotecha said the racist abuse meant that their filming wasn’t able to go ahead.
“Apologies – but man shouting terrible things at me has ruined it for everyone. I’m afraid not going to make it on the special programme,” she said on Twitter on Sunday.
“Apologies to our guests who we had to send home without putting on air after myself and team were subjected to racist and abusive behaviour. Sad obstruction of reporting of a national crisis. Yes I’m furious,” she said.
She was flooded with messages of support and later thanked her 17,800 followers.