Ofcom raps LBC radio host for mocking blind man who uses guide horse

Ofcom raps LBC radio host Steve Allen for mocking blind BBC journalist who uses guide horse because he’s afraid of dogs

  • LBC host Steve Allen is rapped by Ofcom for mocking blind Mohammed Patel 
  • BBC North West Tonight journalist uses guide horse because he’s scared of dogs 
  • Allen said he has ‘never heard of anything so stupid’ when he read news story 
  • Ofcom found comments were ‘highly offensive’ and warned LBC against further rule breaches 

Radio presenter Steve Allen has been rapped by Ofcom for mocking a blind journalist who used a guide horse because he is afraid of dogs.

The LBC host said: ‘I’ve never heard of anything so stupid’ when he heard how Mohammed Salim Patel was helped by a miniature horse called Digby.

The watchdog found that Allen’s early-morning show, broadcast between 4am and 7am on weekdays, broke broadcasting rules with ‘potentially highly offensive’ comments about blind people. 

 Discussing a newspaper story on the BBC North West Tonight journalist, he said: ‘Also the guide horse for the blind man who’s afraid of dogs.

Ofcom found Allen’s early-morning show broke broadcasting rules with ‘potentially highly offensive’ comments about blind people

‘Well if he’s blind, tell him it’s a rabbit or something.

‘I’ve never heard of anything so stupid. 

‘This is the blind man scared of dogs hoping that a horse will guide him on his commute. Where are you going to take that for goodness sake? 

You can’t take it on the train, can you?’

Allen added that if Patel is afraid of dogs, ‘don’t give him anything at all then. Just give him a white stick’.

Allen also compared it to the BBC hiring a blind cameraman, saying: ‘He’s blind – somebody’s going to have to say to him ‘little bit to the right, little bit to the left, little bit, oh, up, oh no missed it completely’. It just doesn’t work.

Mohammed Patel with Digby, left, and with the guide horse and his trainer Katy Smith, right

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‘I can understand people going ‘oh I want to be treated the same’, but I mean, you know, a joke’s a joke I think.’

LBC has previously been found in breach of rules on offensive content with comments Allen made about the Traveller community and Portuguese people. 

An Ofcom spokeswoman said: ‘Our investigation found that the presenter’s comments about blind people were potentially highly offensive, and were not justified by the context.

‘This is not the first time that LBC has broken our rules on offensive content, as a result of comments made by this presenter.

‘We have issued LBC with a warning that any further breaches could result in a statutory sanction.’

LBC said that Allen was ‘expressing genuine surprise’ at the news story about guide horses’ and ‘his intention was not to treat the blind community with insensitivity’.

It said that it had made improvements to its compliance processes for Allen’s programme as a result of this case.

Potential sanctions can include financial penalties and having to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings.  

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