THE BBC’s flagship politics show has been accused of promoting an “incitement to racial hatred” after an audience member’s anti-immigrant tirade went viral on social media.

The woman called for the UK to close its borders “completely” as she ranted for more than a minute and 20 seconds on Question Time. Despite numerous factual inaccuracies, the clip was subsequently shared on social media by official BBC accounts. By yesterday evening, it had been viewed more than four million times on Twitter alone.

The outburst was the subject of at least one complaint from a viewer, Ofcom confirmed. It was passed to the BBC for consideration, with the complainant entitled to bring their query to Ofcom if they are unsatisfied with the broadcaster’s response.

However, a full clip of the audience member’s tirade was shared on social media by Question Time – prompting a backlash from onlookers pointing out that the claims in the video were inaccurate and offensive.

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Nasar Meer, professor of race, identity and citizenship at the University of Edinburgh, described the statement from the audience member as an “incitement to racial hatred”.

He said: “It seems profoundly inappropriate that that is shared as a window into a programme. The BBC shouldn’t be a vehicle for this. It should be, at best, arbitrating competing views, but not promoting views that are known to be untrue.”

He warned that broadcast media was “intimately related” to the experience of black and ethnic minorities and hate crime, adding: “So when you’ve got a broadcaster promoting racist and hateful views, then it’s inevitable that that will have an impact on the lives of people on the street, in the workplace and in school.”

He called for Question Time not only to apologise, but to put forward a strategy to ensure a repeat of this incident “never happens again”.

Smina Akhtar, of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow, accused Question Time of helping to normalise racism.

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She said: “BBC Question Time clipped and shared the racist rant from that woman immediately on social media without any challenge or critique of what she had said. That is sending out a clear message that racist views are legitimate, acceptable and normal to have. What the woman said was racist, the BBC shard her views, that means they are effectively encouraging hate against migrants.”

Akhtar believes such sentiments can be linked to Downing Street, which has recently unveiled plans to clamp down on immigration. She said: “It’s no surprise that the woman has those views. The Tory right which includes our Prime Minister Boris Johnson shares those views – she thinks all borders should be closed, he wants to pick and choose who gets in.”

Panellists on Thursday night’s show, broadcast from Weymouth, were discussing the potential of the Tory government’s new immigration proposals to cause crippling shortages in the care sector.

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Intervening, the woman began her rant by confusing England with the UK, stating: “Sixty-eight million people now live in England – going up, according to UN estimates. At what stage does the panel and people think that this country has had enough? That we should close the borders, completely close the borders.”

She continued: “Because it’s got to the stage now … there’s no education, infrastructure … we’re sinking, surely someone’s got to see common sense and say enough is enough. You’ve got people flooding into this country who can’t speak English.”

She went on to question the cost of interpreters and signs in different languages in NHS facilities, while not acknowledging the contribution of immigrant workers in the health service.

The woman, from London, added: “What sort of country is allowing this tourism to come in? You arrive on a plane, get free service, can have your babies. You can carry on having it all for free.”

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Panellist Ash Sarkar, a journalist and lecturer at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, countered the claims. She pointed out immigrants contribute more in tax than other citizens. Indeed, a 2018 Oxford Economics study found immigrants who arrived in the UK in 2016 were expected to make a net lifetime contribution of £26.9 billion to public finances.

A Question Time spokesperson insisted the social media output was justified. “Last night’s Question Time included a debate about immigration which featured a broad range of views from the audience members and panellists,” they said. “We posted five clips of people expressing their different views on the issue, including a panellist responding directly to the views of an audience member.”