The Labour MP David Lammy has denied snubbing Comic Relief after he became embroiled in a dispute with the television journalist and Strictly Come Dancing winner Stacey Dooley.
Lammy had accused Dooley of perpetuating “tired and unhelpful stereotypes” about Africa after she travelled to Uganda for an upcoming Comic Relief documentary.
The MP for Tottenham criticised her on Twitter after she shared pictures on social media of her trip including one of her posing with a young child.
Dooley responded by inviting Lammy to travel to the continent himself while Comic Relief suggested the MP had snubbed an offer to collaborate with the charity on a film in Africa.
Lammy said it was “simply not true” that he had not responded to the offer, adding he had held two meetings with the organisation. Lammy claimed Comic Relief had “fallen short” of what he called its “public duty” to promote racial equality and serve minority communities.
Comic Relief on Thursday made no apologies, saying the offer of a collaborative film was “still open”. It thanked Dooley for helping people “working with or supported by Comic Relief projects tell their own stories in their own words”.
Lammy initially had responded to the pictures posted on Instagram by Dooley by tweeting: “The world does not need any more white saviours.
“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.”
Lammy said his issue was not “personal” with Dooley and he did not question her “good motives”.
However, he said he had a problem with “British celebrities” being flown out to Africa for Red Nose Day to make films that send “a distorted image” of the continent and perpetuate “an old idea from the colonial era”.
Lammy, who is of Guyanese descent, said “many black” Britons are “deeply uncomfortable” with Comic Relief’s “poverty porn”.
Dooley, who has made documentaries for the BBC on topics including fast fashion and an Islamic State sex slave, responded by suggesting the politician should raise awareness of poverty himself.
She tweeted: “David, is the issue with me being white? (Genuine question) … because if that’s the case, you could always go over there and try [to] raise awareness?
“Comic relief have raised over 1 billion pounds since they started. I saw projects that were saving lives with the money. Kids lives.”
Lammy said he “was not prepared to become part of a PR exercise”. On Twitter, he wrote: “It’s simply not true to say I did not respond: we had two meetings in my office. I had hoped – and still hope – your coverage would improve but Stacey’s post was more of the same tried [sic] tropes. As I told you before, I’m not prepared to become part of a PR exercise.
“It’s not about me making a nice film, but about you giving some of your very privileged platform on the BBC to the hundreds of African comedians, filmmakers, celebrities and everyday people who live on the continent.”