Ofcom investigates Sky News over Chris Kaba protest mix-up

Presenter wrongly suggested people marching over police shooting were heading to palace to mourn the Queen

Sky News is being investigated by the media regulator after it wrongly suggested that a protest march over the police shooting of Chris Kaba was a crowd of people mourning Queen Elizabeth II.

Thousands of people protested in central London on 10 September, five days after a Met firearms officer shot Kaba, 24, who was unarmed, after a chase in south London. Those demonstrating included the Labour MPs Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy and the musician Stormzy.

Sky News was streaming footage from its helicopter of royal mourners in central London when the camera zoomed in on the protest march approaching Trafalgar Square. Despite the fact that some of the group were carrying Black Lives Matter banners, the Sky News presenter Sarah-Jane Mee mistook them for royal wellwishers heading towards Buckingham Palace.

Talking over the images, she said: “Look at that, look at the crowds of people winding their way down … they’ll be working their way up the Mall, and what a walk there is.

“There are thousands of people lining that route, it really is an incredible sight. They’ll work their way up the Mall, very slowly, meeting new friends along the way, talking about their journey here, their memories of the Queen, their good wishes for the new king.”

The clip swiftly went viral and was held up as an example of racial bias in the British media. Ofcom received 598 complaints about the failure to meet accuracy standards as required by the broadcasting code.

Opening an investigation does not mean Sky News will be found to have breached any rules, as the media regulator tends to look more kindly on errors that are swiftly corrected. Sky News and Mee have already apologised for the mistake, with the channel broadcasting an on-air apology and emphasising that it had covered Kaba’s case separately.

The charity Inquest has submitted its concerns about Kaba’s shooting to the UN human rights office.


Jim Waterson Media editor

The GuardianTramp

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