Entertainment & Arts

No Ofcom investigation over David Starkey Newsnight row

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Media captionDavid Starkey interviewed on Newsnight in August

Media watchdog Ofcom has decided not to investigate complaints about David Starkey's controversial comments on Newsnight regarding the UK riots.

Historian Starkey partly blamed the disorder on "gangster" culture and said "the whites have become black" on the BBC programme in August.

But Ofcom said Starkey's comments "were moderated by the presenter".

It also said his views were "countered strongly by the views of other contributors" on the BBC Two programme.

The BBC received nearly 900 complaints from viewers.

The corporation said those who complained felt Starkey's contribution to the programme had been "inappropriate and racially offensive".

Labour leader Ed Miliband also criticised the historian, calling his comments "absolutely outrageous".

Ofcom received just over 100 complaints.

Starkey was speaking during a debate chaired by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis. He appeared alongside Owen Jones, the author of Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, and Dreda Say Mitchell, an author and broadcaster.

Ofcom said: "This was a serious and measured discussion within a programme with a well-established nature and format and with reputation for dealing with challenging subjects.

"The effect of [David Starkey's] comments was limited by the presenter's moderation of the item and his comments were countered by the views of other contributors."

Dr Starkey defended his views in the Daily Telegraph the week after his Newsnight appearance and protested that the subject of race had become "unmentionable".

"The subject has become unmentionable, by whites at any rate," he wrote.

"And any breach has been punished by ostracism and worse.

"As the hysterical reaction to my remarks shows, the witch-finders already have their sights on me."

Dr Starkey insisted he had been trying to point out "the very different patterns of integration at the top and bottom of the social scale."

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