Man denies racially abusing BBC reporter before coronavirus broadcast in Leicester city centre

BBC reporter Sima Kotecha said she and her team were subjected to racist abuse in Leicester on Sunday. (Sima Kotecha/Twitter)

A man has denied racially abusing a BBC reporter during an attempted broadcast in Leicester about the coronavirus.

Russell Rawlingson, 50, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday at Leicester Magistrates’ Court to causing racially aggravated alarm or distress to journalist Sima Kotecha.

The reporter said she and her team abandoned their planned broadcast in Leicester city centre on Sunday evening after they were subjected to “racist and abusive behaviour”.

She was scheduled to interview people on Sunday evening following Boris Johnson’s announcement on easing the UK’s coronavirus lockdown measures.

The segment was cancelled and the incident was reported to police.

Rawlingson, of Glenfield Road, Leicester, was granted conditional bail until a pre-trial hearing at the city’s crown court on 15 June.

Rawlingson was arrested on Monday night, Leicestershire Police said, and later charged.

Kotecha posted about the alleged incident on Twitter.

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On Monday, she wrote: “Thanks for all the kind messages – team and guests are fine.”

In June 2016, in the aftermath of the EU referendum, Kotecha said she had been subjected to racist abuse in her hometown.

In a tweet on Sunday evening, the BBC said it had reported the incident to police.

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