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UK watchdog probes Nigel Farage over Sweden rape comments

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UK watchdog probes Nigel Farage over Sweden rape comments
File photo of Ukip MEP Nigel Farage. Photo: Alastair Grant/AP
12:17 CET+01:00
Ukip politician Nigel Farage is being investigated by the UK's broadcasting standards authority Ofcom over an edition of his LBC radio show where he claimed there had been a "dramatic rise in sexual crime" in Sweden due to the intake of refugees.

Farage made the comments on the February 20th edition of his LBC show, where he also claimed that Malmö had the highest number of rapes in Europe thanks to "EU migrant policies". 

"Sweden has taken in more young male migrants than any other country in Europe and there has been a dramatic rise in sexual crime in Sweden. So much so that Malmo (sic) is now the rape capital of Europe, and some argue that perhaps it is the rape capital of the world," Farage said on the show.

Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) statistics do not support Farage's claims. The number of rapes reported annually in Sweden per 100,000 citizens has been relatively steady for almost a decade, dropping from 69 in 2014 to 60 in 2015 (the year in which Sweden received a record 163,000 asylum applications), then increasing again to 67 in 2016 – slightly below the 2014 level.

According to Brå's preliminary figures for 2016 there were 67 reported rapes per 100,000 citizens in Malmö municipality last year, the highest number since 2011 when there were 71 reported rapes per 100,000 citizens.

READ ALSO: Why Sweden is not the rape capital of the world

Now, Ofcom is probing Farage's statements after receiving nine complaints from listeners about the February 20th show.

"We are investigating whether the comments made in this programme were materially misleading," an Ofcom spokesperson told The Local.

In particular the investigation is about "several remarks" Farage made about the refugee crisis, while the fact that he was not challenged about his comments in the programme is being taken into consideration, Ofcom explained.

If Ofcom considers that a broadcaster or service provider may have "breached its codes, rules, licence condition or other regulatory requirements" it will start an investigation.

An investigation does not necessarily mean that the broadcaster or service provider has done anything wrong, and not all investigations result in breaches being recorded. Ofcom aims to conclude its investigations within 50 working days.

The Local contacted Ukip for comment.

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