Leicester man to stand trial for racial abuse to Sima Kotecha

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LEICESTER: A man accused of racially abusing a BBC reporter as she prepared to go live on air will stand trial in September, a court heard last week. Russell Rawlingson, 50, allegedly targeted the TV and radio journalist in Leicester city centre on May 10, forcing her to abandon her planned on-air report, the Evening Standard has reported.

Ms Kotecha was in Leicester reporting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement on coronavirus restrictions and had lined up guests to interview about the pandemic lockdown. Priya Jacob, a junior doctor who has recovered from coronavirus, was due to be interviewed live on BBC One when the broadcast was abandoned.

Sima Kotecha

Rawlingson, from Glenfield Road in Leicester, is accused of “using threatening, insulting, or abusive behaviour”, specifically targeting Ms Kotecha “based on her membership or presumed member of a particular racial group”.

Appearing at Leicester crown court this afternoon, Rawlingson denied the charge of causing racially aggravated alarm or distress.

Judge Martin Hurst released the defendant on bail until a trial, which is due to take place in the week of September 7.

Ms Kotecha, 40, the BBC’s Midlands Correspondent who was recently in Italy covering the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, is expected to be a witness in the trial.

The hearing was largely conducted via Skype, with lawyers and journalists joining remotely while the judge, Rawlingson and court staff were physically at the court.