Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha: Giles Coren defends Dan Roan but BBC takes ‘dim view’ of remarks after Leicester owner’s helicopter crash
- Online petition calls for BBC to sack sports editor Dan Roan
- Journalist made disparaging off-air comments about Leicester owner’s personal assistant
BBC sports editor Dan Roan has reportedly been reprimanded by the corporation after a crude remark about Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s personal assistant, who died with the Leicester City owner in Saturday’s helicopter crash.
Roan was picked up by a live Sky News feed streaming on YouTube making off-air comments referring to Nursara Suknamai, a former Thai beauty queen, as the billionaire’s “mistress”.
“The BBC have taken a dim view of this,” a source told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph. “They told him at the outset that the main thing he needed to do was to strike the right tone, and then this happens.”
Roan had been reporting from the memorial outside the club’s King Power Stadium on Monday, standing just yards away from the crash site where thousands of fans, and Srivaddhanaprabha’s family, had laid flowers in tribute.
“The mistress who died in the crash ... otherwise known as a member of staff ... i.e. mistress,” Roan was recorded saying.
“If you were a billionaire, it’s relatively expected, so we shouldn’t judge.”
Roan was absent from BBC’s coverage of the incident the next day, and later issued an apology on Twitter.
“Just want to say sorry for some comments made in a private, off-air conversation earlier with a colleague. Absolutely no offence intended,” he wrote.
The BBC has refused to confirm whether Roan will be disciplined, however, saying “we deal with staff matters privately”.
A BBC spokesperson said: “This was an ill-judged comment made in a private off-air conversation for which Dan has apologised.”
Roan has faced heavy criticism on social media, with hundreds signing a Change.org petition calling for the BBC to sack him.
“Dan Roan should be removed from his role within the BBC,” the petition said. “Dan Roan has made insensitive comments about the Leicester City Chairman after the terrible helicopter crash on the 27th of October and the BBC have to act.
“Just remember the BBC is funded by the UK population paying for their TV Licence.”
However Roan’s colleague Giles Coren, a prominent restaurant critic and columnist for The Times who has presented several BBC series, came to his defence on Wednesday.
“If @danroan goes, we all go,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “The Saudis kill journalists. America has a lunatic president who incites attacks on journalists.
“And we have a pathetic whingeing bunch of professional offence-takers, going after our journalists one by one. It is nearly as bad.
“THIS S*** HAS TO STOP.”
All five people on board the helicopter were killed, including Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and his partner Izabela Roza Lechowicz, who was also a pilot.
The helicopter took off from the centre circle of the King Power Stadium pitch around half an hour after Leicester’s 1-1 draw against West Ham.
The aircraft briefly hovered around 200 feet above the stadium before going into a tailspin and crashing into the car park.
Leicester’s grieving players will return to action for Saturday’s Premier League game at Cardiff. Both teams will wear black armbands and observe a minute’s silence before kick-off.