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Culture Secretary says new laws will stop Netflix airing offensive comments following Jimmy Carr uproar

05 February 2022

ulture Secretary Nadine Dorries has suggested the government could bring in legislation that stops steaming services from airing offensive content.

The minister was speaking in reference to jokes made by comedian Jimmy Carr in which he makes light of the deaths of the traveller community during the holocaust.

The segment sparked a furious backlash online with critics branding it “truly disturbing” and “beyond tasteless”.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries (Steve Parsons/PA)

/ PA Wire

Ms Dorries has suggested that future legislation will “hold Netflix to account” for airing such content.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she said: “We are looking at legislation via the Media Bill which would bring into scope those comments from other video on-demand streaming outlets like Netflix.

“So it’s interesting that we’re already looking at future legislation to bring into scope those sort of comments.”

Ms Dorries said the comments were “abhorrent and they just shouldn’t be on television”.

In 2017 Ms Dorries herself posted a tweet decrying that “left-wing snowflakes are killing comedy”.

When this was brought to her attention, she replied: “Well, that’s not comedy.

“What Jimmy Carr did last night is not comedy.

“And you know, I’m no angel on Twitter, nobody is, but I just would like to say that nothing I’ve ever put on Twitter has been harmful or abusive.

“But that last night… Jimmy Carr’s comments, no one can call that, you know, snowflake or wokeishness, that’s just… it was just appalling.”

She said the comments were “shocking and abhorrent and unacceptable, not just because he was making fun on the basis of people who died in the most appalling circumstances, but on the pain and suffering of many thousands of families”.

She told Times Radio: “We don’t have the ability now, legally, to hold Netflix to account for streaming that but very shortly we will.”

Asked on Sky News if there was any way this new law would put restrictions on free speech, she said: “No, absolutely not. We’ve been very, very… well because I’m a Conservative, I’ve been very, very careful about that.”

The Traveller Movement, a charity supporting the traveller community in the UK, said: “This is truly disturbing and goes way beyond humour.”

In a tweet, the charity said: “We need all your support in calling this out #StopTravellerHate @StopFundingHate.”

The charity has launched a petition calling for the “removal of the segments of His Dark Material which celebrates the Romani genocide”.

Not-for-profit organisation the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust shared a statement on Twitter from their chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman, who was “horrified” to hear “gales of laughter” following Carr’s remarks.

The Auschwitz Memorial called for Carr to “learn about the fate of some 23 thousand Roma & Sinti deported to Auschwitz” in a tweet to their 1.2 million followers.

The Standard has approached Jimmy Carr’s representatives and Netflix for comment.