The BBC has been accused by a West Midlands MP of fuelling racist attacks on Polish immigrants.
Daniel Kawczynski (Con Shrewsbury) claimed the broadcaster and the “liberal media” in general were focusing on “white, Christian” immigrants from Poland because they were scared to talk about immigration from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
He made the claims in an extraordinary interview on BBC’s Radio 4 and again in the House of Commons.
But Mr Kawczynski came under fire from a Birmingham MP, who accused him of dividing communities.
Sion Simon (Lab Erdington) said: “It seems to me that what Daniel Kawczynski wants us to believe is that our enemy is not the Poles - it is every other foreigner instead.”
Mr Kawczynski, who is of Polish extraction, was invited to appear on the BBC’s Today programme to explain his call for a new bank holiday celebrating the contribution of Polish people to Britain.
He told listeners that Poles had fought alongside British servicemen in the Second World War, and made a “tremendous contribution to our country” as doctors, dentists, plumbers and agricultural workers.
But presenter John Humphreys was clearly taken by surprise when the MP then launched into an attack on the broadcaster.
Mr Kawczynski said: “The main reason I am introducing this Bill and trying to raise this subject is my genuine concern about the handling of immigration by the media in this country.
“Nine out of ten immigrants are not Poles, they are not eastern Europeans, they are from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the West Indies.
“And yet I have been monitoring very closely the reporting of immigration by the BBC. And the BBC, the liberal elite of the BBC, are using the Poles as a cat’s paw, in a politically correct world, to talk about immigration.
“Because you won’t do stories about more controversial immigrants but you always focus on Poles, and as a result of that, Mr Humphreys, there are increased attacks on Poles in this country.”
Mr Humphreys, a veteran interviewer who has presented Today for 20 years, said: “That is an intriguing analysis, one I confess I don’t recognise - I’m not quite sure what the evidence for that is.”
Later, Mr Kawczynski admitted he had come in “for a lot of criticism” for his comments, as he presented his bank holiday proposals to the Commons. But he repeated his controversial claims, telling MPs: “The liberal elite of the BBC are using Poles as a cat’s paw to discuss the issue of mass, unchecked immigration in to this country.”
Mr Simon said: “The way to have a sensible debate about the important topic of immigration is not by setting one community against another in the way this Tory is trying to do.”