In a live link-up to Croydon, where the Reeves furniture shop was burnt to the ground during the looting over night, BBC presenter Fiona Armstrong spoke to Howe about the unrest.
The interview took a turn for the worse though when Armstrong accused Howe of taking part in riots himself.
Armstrong asked How during the interview: ‘You are not a stranger to riots yourself I understand, are you? You have taken part in them yourself.’
Howe responded furiously, accusing Armstrong of showing a lack of respect.
‘I have never taken part in a single riot. I’ve been part of demonstrations that ended up in a conflict,’ he said.
‘Stop accusing me of being a rioter and have some respect for an old West Indian negro, because you wanted for me to get abusive. You just sound idiotic – have some respect.’
The BBC has since apologised for the interview after receiving a number of complaints from viewers.
The corporation said Armstrong had not intended to show Howe any disrespect and the questions were intended to gauge his reaction to the events.
‘We’d like to apologise for any offence that this interview has caused,’ the BBC said, conceding Armstrong’s query had been a ‘poorly-phrased question’.