Comic Relief hits back at MP amid 'white saviour' film row

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, says the charity is perpetuating 'tired and unhelpful stereotypes'

Comic Relief on Twitter
Comic Relief on Twitter

Comic Relief has hit back at criticism from the Labour MP David Lammy after he accused the charity of "perpetuating an old idea from the colonial era" by continuing to send white celebrities to film projects in Africa.

The Tottenham MP expressed concerns after the documentary film-maker Stacey Dooley published an image on Instagram of her visiting Comic Relief projects in Uganda.

"The world does not need any more white saviours," said Lammy on Twitter.

"As I've said before, this just perpetuates tired and unhelpful stereotypes. Let's instead promote voices from across the continent of Africa and have serious debate."

In response to a tweet from Dooley, Lammy said he did not question her good motives.

"My problem with British celebrities being flown out by Comic Relief to make these films is that it sends a distorted image of Africa which perpetuates an old idea from the colonial era," he said.

Comic Relief responded to Lammy via a statement on Twitter that said Dooley had a track record of highlighting issues around the world and her film showed people supported by Comic Relief telling their stories in their own words.

"We have previously asked David Lammy if he would like to work with us to make a film in Africa and he has not responded," Comic Relief said. "The offer is still open."

Lammy responded by saying that he was "not prepared to become part of a PR exercise":

The charity conceded it did have meetings with Lammy but he did not want to take up its offer to make a film.

Lammy said in response:

Lammy also said the people of Africa did not need a British politician to make a film.

"I want African people to speak for themselves, not UK celebs acting as tour guides," he said.

Lammy has previously criticised the charity for making so-called "white saviour" films. Liz Warner, chief executive of Comic Relief, said last year that it would move away from using films fronted by celebrities and use local people instead.

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