JK Rowling comments made by BBC Radio 4 broadcaster ruled to be misleading

Tom Sutcliffe said the Harry Potter author's views on the trans community were 'very unpopular'

Published

The BBC has accepted a complaint that a Radio 4 broadcaster made misleading views about JK Rowling.

The Harry Potter author has been vocal in her views on the trans community, which has caused her to be criticised across social media.

A listener to Radio 4's Front Row podcast issued a complaint after criticism of the author was discussed in the same context as Adolf Hitler and R Kelly.

Executive Complaints Committee at the BBC dismissed that part of the complaint, but did rule that Tom Sutcliffe's speech on the author was misleading.

JK Rowling
JK Rowling

Mr Sutcliffe interviewed Professor Erich Hatala Matthes about his new book Drawling the Line, which discusses whether you can separate art from the artist.

As part of this discussion, Adolf Hitler and R Kelly were brought up, which led Mr Sutcliffe on to JK Rowling.

He said: "“You bring up the case of JK Rowling who clearly has a very unpopular opinion regarding gender identity and has, as a consequence of that, faced severe and serious criticism.

"Are those the same things?”

The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, that named a house after JK Rowling has dropped the title in light of the Harry Potter author's "comments and viewpoints surrounding trans people"
The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, that named a house after JK Rowling has dropped the title in light of the Harry Potter author's "comments and viewpoints surrounding trans people"

The viewer complained that labelling Ms Rowling's views on gender identity as "very unpopular" was misleading.

The BBC accepted this complaint because there was no conclusive evidence to back up Mr Sutcliffe's claims.

The ECU ruled: “The ECU agreed … that Mr Sutcliffe’s reference to a ‘very unpopular opinion’ was potentially misleading because, while it had clearly proved objectionable to some, there was no conclusive evidence that the objectors represented a majority.”

The BBC also stated: “Before the complaint reached the ECU … Mr Sutcliffe had appeared on Radio 4’s Feedback and acknowledged that he should have acknowledged that many people shared the view expressed by JK Rowling, and that he should have reflected that view.

“In the ECU’s judgment this was sufficient to resolve the issues of accuracy and impartiality raised by the complaint.”