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Good Morning Britain has been hit with hundreds of Ofcom complaints after Richard Madely furiously clashed with President of Guyana Irfaan Ali over slavery reparations.
The South American president, whose country received a formal apology last month from the family of 19th century Prime Minister William Gladstone for their historical connection to slavery, said that the UK must realise it ‘still benefits from the greatest indignity to the human being’.
During the heated discussion the leader argued the UK, which according to a report owes £19trillion in reparations, should pay compensation for slavery, after a UN report suggested countries who benefited from the trade should do so.
The discussion sparked a frustrated response from Madeley, who became visibly furious with the President’s suggestions and at one point slammed the table in anger.
He accused the Guyanan leader of not just asking for money but ‘gestures’ suggesting perhaps he he wanted the Royal Family to ‘hand over a palace to your country’. Mr Ali said he simply wanted ‘justice’.
Good Morning Britain has been hit with hundreds of Ofcom complaints after Richard Madely furiously clashed with President of Guyana Irfaan Ali over slavery reparations
The South American president said that the UK must realise it ‘still benefits from the greatest indignity to the human being
The blazing row, that took place last week, has led to 334 viewers to complain to Ofcom.
One annoyed viewer took to X, formerly known as Twitter, during the episode last week, writing: ‘Richard Madeley was so ignorant and disrespectful to the president of a Guyana.’
Another added: ‘Who does Richard Madeley think he is? Slamming his hand down on the desk and talking to the president of Guyana in such a rude and disrespectful manner.’
A third said: ‘Richard Madeley is arrogant and showed his ignorance on the topic of slavery. What a pathetic man.’
During the exchange, Madeley asked Mr Ali why today’s generation should ‘carry the burden’ for what their ancestors did, the president told Good Morning Britain: ‘Oh, it’s not a burden at all.
‘You are one of the beneficiaries of that slave trade, so this is not a burden.
‘You should be concerned and you should pay because you today still benefit from the greatest indignity to the human being, and that is the slave trade.
‘And not only did you benefit during the slave trade, and your country develop, but look at what it cost the developing world.
‘During slavery, resources were used to build your country, build up your capacity. You were able to then become competitive, able to invest in mechanisation and developing countries like ours were left behind. So you should be very concerned, because you are prime beneficiaries of exploits of slavery.’
President of Guyana Mohamed Irfaan Ali speaks during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New York later that day
Madeley went on to question why ‘someone who maybe had an ancestor seven or eight generations ago should have to pay for what an ancient ancestor did’.
He also asked: ‘How far back do we have to go on this? We are speaking exclusively on Western imperialistic slavery to summarise, but almost every civilisation on the planet owes its existence and prosperity almost always to crimes, in the past.
‘Why just target one particular era in history? Some would argue that’s the argument of political convenience. Its a handy handle to hang your argument on.’
But a defiant Mr Ali – speaking from New York – replied: ‘I think you’re doing a great injustice to compare slavery with any other historical facts that you are mentioning.
‘It is a great injustice to the indignity that slavery brought to people.’
Madeley then appeared to get more wound up as the topic of the Royal Family came up.
‘One of the points you’ve been making today is about our Royal Family,’ he said.
‘And you feel that it’s not just about the finances involved here in terms of reparations for slavery.
As he thumped the table in frustration, Madeley continued: ‘It’s about the gestures.
‘And you think that the British Royal Family should make a big gesture, don’t you? What do you mean? Hand over a palace to your country?’
‘Well no, we don’t want the British to hand over a palace that we built,’ the president replied.
He continued: ‘If you go to many of the palaces in Britain, you’ll see the lovely hard work from Guyana. You will see the sweat, tears and blood of the slaves who were exploited, and the revenue that was earnt from the exploitation. So we’re not asking for a palace; we’re asking for justice.’
The discussion sparked a frustrated response from Madeley, who became visibly furious with the President’s suggestions and at one point slammed the table in anger
Earlier this month it was reported that Caribbean nations will make formal demands for the Royal Family to make slavery reparations by the end of the year.
Rather than trying to negotiate inter-governmental agreements, several nations want to put their case directly to descendants of those thought to have benefited from slavery, including King Charles.
Mr Ali added that when he came on to the programme, other topics such as net zero and climate injustice were being spoken about – something he believes is at the forefront of discussion.
He continued: ‘This is the problem. We live in a very unjust society. We condemn completely the war in Ukraine. But if you look at the mobilisation of resources in the war in Ukraine in two years, you have mobilised more support for Ukraine than you have mobilised for Haiti for 60 years.
‘You have mobilised more support for Ukraine than you have mobilised for Palestine in 20 years. You have mobilised more support for Ukraine in just one and a half years than you have mobilised to address hunger in Africa for three years.
‘That is the type of unjust way we have been dealing with these crises. We are not going to tolerate the injustice that occurred during slavery to be compared with any other system. Slavery, we all agree, was the greatest injustice ever done to human beings.’
Last week a UN report on slavery was hailed by campaigners as an important step forward in the fight for reparative justice.
The report said: ‘Under international human rights law, compensation for any economically assessable damage, as appropriate and proportional to the gravity of the violation and the circumstances of each case, may also constitute a form of reparations.
‘In the context of historical wrongs and harms suffered as a result of colonialism and enslavement, the assessment of the economic damage can be extremely difficult owing to the length of time passed and the difficulty of identifying the perpetrators and victims.’
It stressed that the challenge in making a legal claim for reparation ‘cannot be the basis for nullifying the existence of underlying legal obligations’.
MailOnline has contacted ITV for comment.