Updated: Friday, 24th November 2017 @ 8:08am

Canal Street worker sends furious letter to BBC after Graham Norton reprimanded for wearing AIDS ribbon

Canal Street worker sends furious letter to BBC after Graham Norton reprimanded for wearing AIDS ribbon

By Edward Roberts

A furious Canal Street worker has condemned the BBC over reprimanding Graham Norton for wearing a red ribbon in support of World AIDS Day.

David Costin sent an angry email to the BBC in which he called for an immediate explanation of why Norton should not have been able to wear the emblem while presenting his chat show.

He also questioned the BBC’s contradictory handling of the matter in their memorial for Nelson Mandela where the former president of South Africa was seen proudly displaying the same crest as Norton.

Mr Costin, who works on Canal Street, said: “How can a world leader be such a champion to a cause but a chat show host can’t?

“I would welcome your comments however I cannot think of any justification for this delusional nonsense.”

Norton wore a red ribbon in front of millions of viewers on November 29, only two days before World AIDS day which falls on December 1 each year.

Mr Costin was keen to highlight the significance of the event in his tirade.

He said: “There are numerous organisations that are currently fighting the stigma against the epidemic and raising awareness around it.  Hence the need to wear the ribbon.”

The BBC, which is now largely based at Salford’s own MediaCityUK, was quick to defend their stance on the issue and resolve the outpour of criticism they have received from a baffled public.

Mark Linsey, a controller for BBC Entertainment Commissioning, responded by accepting that the ruling against the red ribbon was controversial and had caused disruption within the organisation.

He said:  “It is a strongly debated subject internally as there are people within the BBC that disagree with the guidelines, particularly supporters of such notable charities as World’s Aids Day.”

The retort outlined that the ribbon was not permitted in the interest of fairness and the conflict that it may cause with other charities that the BBC is affiliated with.

Mr Linsey said: “The BBC aims to be impartial between charities and good causes and we cannot campaign or wage awareness-raising campaigns, also for reasons of impartiality.”

The ribbon is permitted to be worn by guests and audiences but not hosts or anyone connected with the company.

However, as the red insignia is often likened to the poppy that is worn annually on the run up to Remembrance Day many have been keen to point out how the BBC gladly allows the latter despite their similarities.

The organisation has replied to this parallel between the emblems by noting that they have a long term relationship with the Royal British Legion Charity Appeal which includes poppies being worn on screen and being sold on their premises.

“The poppy is a universal symbol of remembrance for those who died serving their country in conflict and, in particular, for those who died defending this country in two world wars,” Mr Linsey defended.

Other people have reacted angrily to the BBC’s stance by taking to social networks or contacting the broadcaster directly.

The MP for Airdrie and Shotts, Pamela Nash, has since followed suit by releasing an open letter calling for the BBC to re-think their position.

Echoing similar sentiments to Mr Costin, her letter asks them to amend their guidelines accordingly.

The young MP said: “It is a symbol of solidarity, compassion, and an important awareness raising tool which the BBC could greatly help promoting.”

World AIDs day began in 1995 after millions had died from the infection during the epidemic that began in the late 70s.

In 2012 there were 442 new cases of HIV in Greater Manchester and it is estimated that there are 500 people living in the city unaware that they are suffering from the condition.

Last month World AIDS day was marked with a procession and a candlelit vigil in the city centre.

Image courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks

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