Saturday 21 October 2017

George Hook suspended by Newstalk over controversial rape case comments

Broadcaster George Hook. Photo: Mark Condren
Broadcaster George Hook. Photo: Mark Condren
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

BROADCASTER George Hook has been suspended by Newstalk as the fallout from his controversial on-air comments about a rape case in the UK continues.

"Newstalk can confirm that George Hook has been suspended from his duties at the station," the station said in a statement this morning.

'Truly sorry': Newstalk show host George Hook Photo: David Conachy
'Truly sorry': Newstalk show host George Hook Photo: David Conachy

"The process re: his comments last week is ongoing."

Managing Editor Patricia Monahan said that comments made were “totally wrong and inappropriate and should never have been made.”

It is not known how long the veteran broadcaster (76) will be suspended, with a spokesman for the station only adding to Independent.ie that the process "is ongoing".

It is understood that Dr Ciara Kelly will replace him on 'High Noon' today.

Mr Hook's comments on his show on Friday of last week were made while he discussed the case of a woman (19), who alleges she was raped by a former member of the British swim team.

"Is there no blame to the person who puts themselves in danger?" he asked.

Our broad casters will soon be like the North Koreans only saying what they're told to say wearing big over the top smiles to do it. No opinions allowed

Via Facebook

This is becoming a nasty little country. A small section of the community with the help of the press are bringing us in a direction that most of us do not want. George Hook, while trying to make a very worthwhile point made a mistake in phrasing it, apologised twice, but no we must have his head.

Via Facebook

Of course he has a right to an opinion but he is in a job where he is paid for people to listen. His comment could be very dangerous. This decision is the correct one.

Via Facebook

Delighted.Broadcasters need to be impartial,and keep their opinions to themselves. There should be no room for victim shaming and pure ignorant chauvinism on national radio.

Via Facebook

Wrong, wrong, wrong - the nanny state mentality, politically correct mentality, the dictatorship mentality dismisses an apology from a man who spoke an element of truth. Newstalk I reckon your days of listenership are numbered......All gone way too far imo

Via Facebook

As absolutely offensive and abhorrent as his views are, they are still his views and he should be to voice them. That's the unfortunate price we pay for free speech.

Via Facebook

jjsalmo

His comments were unacceptable, but was he justifying rape?

The answer is emphatically no, but he made he mistake of conflating personal responsibility with sexual violence, that was wrong.

He has apologised and I believe he is genuinely contrite, but alas that is unlikely to save him.

Dil Wickremasinghehas, on her radio show spoken out against vaccination, should she be pilloried for such nonsense? 

 

Via Independent.ie comment

Fr_Clint_Power

He's cost his employer tens of thousands of euro and he only gets suspended??? If I did that I'd be sacked. And rightly so.

Stupid comments anyway. Claiming that a rape victim is bears some of the  responsibility for rape effectively means that the rapist isn't 100% responsible. No wonder people turned on him. We just don't like rapists, George, so stop going easy on them.....

Via Independent.ie comment

John Mulligan

I've just switched off newstalk and I'm removing it from the presets in my car. This is a disgusting capitulation to extremists.

A fine man like Hook is being bullied off the airwaves for talking common sense. What has happened to our society?

Via Independent.ie comment

On Monday, singer Mary Coughlan walked out of the Newstalk studio mid-interview in protest. The singer said her three daughters were behind her decision to walk out of a live Newstalk show in protest at the remarks made by Mr Hook.

Last night, Newstalk presenter Dil Wickremasinghe said she would not host her show this weekend in protest at the comments and the alleged failure by management to act in the case.

In a statement, Wickremasinghe said she was "appalled and disgusted" by the comments made by Mr Hook on his show on Newstalk last Friday.

Wickremasinghe, who said she will return to her 'Global Village' show on the station on Saturday September 23, was also strongly critical of station management.

She has accused bosses of being "unsupportive and unwelcoming" of female presenters.

Describing her reaction when she heard Mr Hook make the controversial comments, Wickremasinghe said: "My immediate reaction was this time he has gone too far and surely the station will react appropriately and at the very least suspend him immediately from the airwaves until a decision is made regarding his future."

She added that "victim blaming is unacceptable, irresponsible and dangerous".

A number of complaints have been made to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland regarding Mr Hook's comments, including one from the Women's Council of Ireland.

On Monday, the Dalata Hotel Group withdrew its sponsorship from Newstalk as it could not "support any radio station that allows inappropriate and hurtful comments to be made".

The sponsorship for High Noon is believed to be worth about up to €250,000.

Earlier this week, Mr Hook issued an unreserved apology on air.

"I made comments about rape on the programme that were totally inappropriate and unacceptable and I should never have made them," he said.

During the week, Pat Kenny defended his Newstalk colleague, describing him as "a decent man" who is "genuinely contrite". 

Mr Kenny said: "I listened to his apology and he meant it, he is genuinely contrite. He is devastated by this. He realises what he said didn't come out right and accepts that some people were hurt.

"George has been with the station from the very beginning. He has always been a controversialist, that's why people listen to him.

"The comments are not reflective of him. He is a decent man with children and was musing over a topic.

"He has entertained people for 13 years and it would be sad that people would take his mis-speaking on the radio as the real representation of George the man," he added.

Mr Kenny also stressed that he was "not in any way trying to espouse the point of view that [Hook] articulated".

More to follow

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