Kelechi Okafor pulls out of Woman’s Hour after accusing host of ‘degrading’ comments

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Actress Kelechi Okafor pulled out of an appearance on Woman's Hour moments before she was due to go on-air after accusing host Emma Barnett of making "degrading" comments about her.

The podcaster and TV star was invited to chat on the BBC Radio 4 show to speak about the #MeToo movement with host Emma.

She claims on social media that moments before the interview, she overheard a conversation in which she could hear herself "being talked about like a d***head."

The British actress revealed her decision to pull out to her Twitter followers, explaining: "Hi guys I’m coming off woman’s hour because what I’ve just had to witness is absolutely degrading and vile."

Actress, Kelechi Okafor, pulled out of an appearance on Woman's Hour on Wednesday
(Image: Twitter)

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In a second tweet, she added: "The host didn’t realise her mic was on as she was talking about me before the interview started is all I’m going to say."

Kelechi continued: "You can have a genuine concern about something you’ve been told about me and address it in a manner that is kind. That wasn’t what took place. Myself and the other people who would be talking during the segment could hear me being talked about like a d***head.

"When she clocks the mic is on suddenly it’s 'well kelechi could you just explain to me because I’m trying to give you a chance to explain…' It was on your producers to have explained and done their research. It was on you to check your mic."

Kelechi also posed a video to Instagram, in which she said: "I won't be going on Woman's Hour now. The host didn't realise her mic was on as she was talking s**t about me to the producers."

She has accused host Emma Barnett of making "degrading" comments about her
(Image: PA)

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After Kelechi's allegations host Emma – who started her new role as the Woman’s Hour host on Monday – took to Twitter to post a statement.

The Jewish presenter typed: "Just before I went on air this morning to present a special programme about Me Too – pegged to the anniversary of Harvey Weinstein’s court case – it came to my attention that one of our guests Kelechi Okafor, had made alleged anti-semitic remarks.

"I was also sent press reports of the transcript of what she has said on he podcast supporting Reggie Yate’s comments about Jewish male managers and profits. As Weinstein is also Jewish and was referenced as part of this same podcast I was discussing with my producers the role of this guest in light of her allegedly anti-Semitic comments.

"Kelechi overheard that chat on our open Zoom link – with 2 minutes to airtime, I then directly talked to Kelechi about the allegations, standing by my queries, and said she could put her response across the programme, She denied all allegations and hung up, choosing to no longer be part of the programme. I stand by my questions to my team and Kelechi. And I would have happily hosted her on the programme – with a question on the issue.

Kelechi claims she overheard a conversation she was not meant to in which she "could hear me being talked about like a d***head."
(Image: Instagram)

"I believe people can always answer for themselves – but equally it is my duty to ask people what qualifies them as a leading voice in a space. And about any previous issues which may influence their views.

"Any guest is entitled to make their own decisions about whether to appear on a programme but in the interests of fairness I feel it’s important to add some detail to the accounts that are circulating in the press and social media.

"Woman’s Hour is a wonderful platform known for its robust journalism and asking all of the questions tat need asking. I am greatly enjoying my first week. Emma Barnett."

When The Mirror approached the BBC for comment they told: "During an off-air conversation ahead of the programme Emma Barnett and the production team talked about a guest’s role in the discussion, and how to reflect some of the guest’s alleged previous comments and the issue of anti-Semitism as part of the Woman’s Hour discussion on the role of minority voices in the MeToo movement. This was also raised directly with the guest before going on air."

After Kelechi's allegations host Emma – who started her new role as the Woman’s Hour host on Monday – took to Twitter to post a statement
(Image: Twitter)

Emma said she felt it was "important to add some detail to the accounts that are circulating"
(Image: Twitter)

In 2017 Kelechi defended comments made by then presenter Reggie Yates about Jewish people, which were accused of being anti-semitic.

Back in November 2017, Reggie apologised after he used the phrase "fat Jewish guy" in reference to managers in the music industry, during the Halfcast Podcast with DJ Chuckie Lothian.

While praising artists who remain independent, he said: "The thing that makes it great about this new generation of (music) artists is that they ain't signing to majors.

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"They're independent, they're not managed by some random fat Jewish guy from north west London, they're managed by their brethren."

Following the remarks he publicly apologised in a statement, saying: "I'm hugely apologetic for this flippant comment."

He added: "It was not my intention to offend or reinforce stereotypes, but I'm aware that this could have been interpreted that way and for that I am also deeply sorry.

"What I was actually trying to say was how proud I am of the new generation of artists making their success independently on their own terms and without giving away control or their rights to major labels."

The podcaster and TV star was invited to chat on the BBC Radio 4 show to speak about the #MeToo movement
(Image: Twitter)

After Reggie's apology, Kelechi spoke on her Say Your Mind podcast – in an episode that has since been taken off Soundcloud – and addressed what he said.

The actress explained that she “had a huge problem with people apologising for things that they meant” and dubbed Reggie's apology statement as “well-manicured”.

Kelechi remarked at the time that Yates’ comments were “not problematic” and added that he was speaking “the truth”.

During the episode, she said that black people in the arts have been “so short-changed by the kind of people Reggie Yates describes”.

The Mirror has contacted Kelechi and the BBC for comment.

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