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BBC's 'portly' Matt Frei is accused of treating Haitians as savages

Usually criticised for being too politically correct, the BBC has found itself accused of racist undertones in its coverage of the crisis in Haiti.

Andy Kershaw, a fellow BBC presenter, says the reporting of the disaster by Matt Frei, the Washington correspondent, has been "disgraceful".

"An incongruously ample figure around Port-au-Prince, Frei has been working himself up all week into what is now a state of near hysteria about 'security' and the almost non-existent 'violence'," Kershaw claimed in a newspaper article headlined "Stop treating these people like savages".

"When he is not almost tumescent about violence, he pontificates pompously to camera, or booms at earthquake victims in French. Most Haitians don't speak French. They speak Creole.

"Disgracefully, on Newsnight on Monday, he had the audacity – and anything but the evidence – to declare: 'The dignity of Haiti's past is long forgotten.' No, it certainly is not. It took Bill Clinton, being interviewed by Frei, to correct him. Their chat was turned by Frei, inevitably, to his appetite for imminent violence."

Frei responds to Kershaw's broadside with just one word: "Blimey". He is now back in Washington, but denies that this has anything to do with concern about his reports.

Kevin Bakhurst, the controller of the BBC News Channel, says he does not share "in the slightest" Kershaw's views: "Matt's reports showed his usual integrity, authority and his immense experience of covering emergencies."

Kershaw, by the way, knows a thing or two about aggression. In 2007, he was given a suspended jail sentence for causing alarm and distress to Juliette Banner, his former girlfriend, and her new lover.

After enjoying a curry with Roger Wright, the Radio 3 Controller, Kershaw announced in October that he would be returning to the station.

© Telegraph.co.uk