A veteran BBC local radio DJ has been sacked for playing a song from 1932 that contained the n-word. Devon DJ David Lowe, 68, said he was unaware that an old version of The Sun Has Got His Hat On included the word and called it an "innocent mistake."

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He said BBC bosses declined his idea of an on-air apology and he was forced to leave. The BBC said it accepted that the situation could have been handled better and offered Mr Lowe his job back - he declined.

The second verse of the song, recorded by the UK dance band Ambrosse and his Orchestra, features the line: "He's been tanning [n-word] out in Timbuktu, now he's coming back to do the same to you."

Mr Lowe, a broadcaster for 14 years, told BBC News he had written an "unreserved apology."

"I offered to apologise or to fall on my sword," he said. "Unfortunately the BBC decided on the latter option. I don't have any quarrels with any of my colleagues. It's the system of political correctness which has turned this into a rather badly-handled affair.

"I think we're all too ready to bow to political correctness. One feels one is following a verbal tightrope, even in casual conversation."

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A BBC spokeswoman said: "We have offered David Lowe the opportunity to continue presenting his Singers and Swingers show, and we would be happy to have him back on air.

"We accept that the conversation with David about the mistake could have been handled better, but if he chooses not to continue then we would like to thank him for his time presenting on the station and wish him well for the future."

The incident comes after calls to sack the Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson were resisted by the BBC, despite unbroadcast footage showing him apparently using the n-word.

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