Saturday 21 July 2018

Black candidates on The Apprentice may worry about Lord Sugar, MP says

Dawn Butler has spoken out about the peer’s controversial tweet, which has since been deleted.

Black candidates on The Apprentice may worry about Lord Sugar, MP says (Jim Marks/BBC)
Black candidates on The Apprentice may worry about Lord Sugar, MP says (Jim Marks/BBC)

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

A Labour MP has said Lord Sugar’s “racist” tweet about the Senegal football team was “extremely offensive” and will have an impact on black candidates who wish to take part in The Apprentice.

The peer has faced criticism for tweeting a picture of the Senegalese World Cup squad, edited to include a picture of handbags and sunglasses laid out on sheets.

In the now-deleted tweet, Lord Sugar wrote: “I recognise some of these guys from the beach in Marbella. Multi tasking resourceful chaps.”

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Lord Sugar’s tweet, which has now been deleted (Lord Sugar/Twitter)

Dawn Butler, Labour MP for Brent Central, has already called for Lord Sugar to be investigated by the BBC and the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards and for him to lose his job.

She has now said Lord Sugar’s tweet – which he has apologised for – may be damaging to future contestants who wish to appear on his business reality programme.

She told ITV’s This Morning: “Why on earth did he decide he felt empowered enough to send out a tweet like that?

“Why not celebrate the fact that this is a professional football squad who just won a game in the World Cup? Why try and denigrate and belittle a football team this way, of black men?

“And remember, he is in a position of power – he works for state television, the BBC, he runs The Apprentice. Can you imagine, if you’re a black man and you’re going on The Apprentice, what you’ll be thinking, because in the back of his mind we all know what he thinks, because he thought it was funny.”

Ms Butler said Lord Sugar “needs to be investigated” and that he is in “breach” of codes of conduct for both the BBC and Parliament.

“I think his line ‘you’re fired’ should be hanging over his head,” she said.

Ms Butler said she did not think Lord Sugar’s apology was adequate, and that he “didn’t really apologise”.

She had previously tweeted a screengrab of a section of the BBC’s code of conduct, titled “Treating everyone equally”, which says the corporation does not “tolerate discrimination of any kind”, and called for the broadcaster to cut ties with him over the “racist tweet”.

Ms Butler also said Tim Campbell, the first winner of The Apprentice, who has Jamaican roots, should “maybe take over” the programme.

Media personality Lizzie Cundy, who said she has known Lord Sugar for several years, said she does not believe he should lose his job over his “mistake”.

Cundy told This Morning: “He is not a racist. He has employed so many people, helped so many people from different cultures.”

Lord Sugar initially defended his tweet, saying he thought it was “funny” and that people had misinterpreted it, after posting it on Wednesday morning.

But the 71-year-old TV star and business mogul later apologised, writing: “I misjudged me earlier tweet. It was in no way intended to cause offence, and clearly my attempt at humour has backfired. I have deleted the tweet and am very sorry.”

Following his apology, a BBC spokesman said: “Lord Sugar has acknowledged this was a seriously misjudged tweet, and he’s in no doubt about our view on this.

“It’s right he’s apologised unreservedly.”

The Apprentice, which sees business candidates compete against each other for a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar, is due to air its 14th series later this year.

Press Association

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