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More n-word trouble at the BBC: DJ David Lowe quits after playing the racist word in a song

After Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson was given a final warning by the BBC following his use of the n-word in a nursery rhyme, Radio Devon DJ David Lowe has lost his job for playing a song containing the racist term.

BBC Broadcasting House. Photo: Getty
The BBC's conversation with DJ David Lowe "could have been handled better". Photo: Getty

The BBC doesn't have much luck handling resignations. When who should be known as its director-ephemeral George Entwistle resigned after just 54 days into the job, following Newsnight's double-blunder of a botched child sex abuse scandal wrongly implicating a former politician, and the Jimmy Savile scandal – a dark period in the show's history that this mole hears is referred to by the team there simply as "The Happening" – the corporation was widely condemned for giving him a £450,000 payoff.

And it still hasn't really learnt how best to wave goodbye to its employees, or even who best to wave goodbye to, what with today's news that local radio DJ David Lowe has lost his job over what he calls his "first error in more than 30 years of broadcasting" – playing a version of 'The Sun Has Got His Hat On' containing the n-word.

The Radio Devon DJ said he was "deeply embarrassed" about what he'd done and offered to deliver an "unreserved apology" on-air, or "to fall on my sword". Rather strangely, the BBC chose the latter, having only last week overlooked a use of the n-word in a nursery rhyme by Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who they simply gave a "final warning", despite his repeated offensive gaffes over the years.

Then the BBC offered Lowe his job back, admitting that their conversation with the local DJ "could have been handled better".

Lowe has decided not to return, because of a health condition exacerbated by the stress of the situation.

Here's what he said:

I offered to apologise or to fall on my sword. Unfortunately the BBC decided on the latter option. I don't have any quarrels with any of my colleagues. It's the system of political correctness which has turned this into a rather badly-handled affair. I think we're all too ready to bow to political correctness. One feels one is following a verbal tightrope, even in casual conversation.

Both the prime minister and the mayor of London have criticised the BBC.

David Cameron told ITV's Good Morning Britain:

I don't run the BBC but it does seem in this case that if you really didn't know what was on the record, it does seem slightly unfair. I don't know all the facts of the case, but from reading the papers like everyone else, it looked a bit odd.

 Boris Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph:

The entire BBC board should go down to Devon to apologise in person, and at their own expense.