BBC presenter John Humphrys has been blasted for mincing his words during an interview about Cambridge University’s decision to investigate links to the slave trade.
The elite institution was praised for the move, which will see a rigorous two-year inquiry “acknowledge its role during that dark phase of human history”.
Speaking to Cambridge Professor Martin Millett on BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, Humphrys asked: “Does it mean you might end up with, I don’t know, the university making an apology, or indeed, finding some way or recommending repatriations are made, some sort of money, compensation, whatever it happens to be?”
Prof Millett said the university was at an “early stage of thinking these things through”.
“So those are possibilities?” the presenter asked.
“Well, I wouldn’t say that they’re possibilities that are high on the agenda…”
It is likely that Humphrys meant “reparations”, an issue which is becoming increasingly hot across university campuses in the US, including Washington DC’s Georgetown, where students voted overwhelmingly to help pay for compensation to the descendants of enslaved people.
But the gaffe didn’t go unnoticed.
One twitter user wrote: “Speaking about the slave trade and Cambridge University, John Humphrys on @BBCr4today just suggested repatriation, not reparation. It’s time they retired him! It’s embarrassing.”
Listeners also accused Humphry’s of being a “dinosaur” as he quizzed Ed Miliband on his new cross-party group addressing climate change on this morning’s show.
Humphrys announced earlier this year that he will step down from Radio 4’s flagship show this year.