Monday 16 January 2017

Hook says sorry for threat to sue Ireland star Sexton

Published 12/03/2016 | 02:30

Broadcaster George Hook (Tom Burke)
Broadcaster George Hook (Tom Burke)

Rugby pundit George Hook has apologised to Ireland out-half Jonathan Sexton for threatening to sue him.

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The broadcaster issued the threat for defamation over comments made about him by Sexton in an interview.

Hook claimed the comments made by Sexton suggested he does not believe what he writes and broadcasts and he has generated controversy over player welfare, including that of the Leinster star, to further his career.

Writing in 'Sport' in today's Irish Independent, Hook says: "Last week Jonathan Sexton suggested that I did not believe what I wrote when commenting on brain injuries in rugby.

"It seemed to me that it struck at the very heart of what I do and my integrity. After all, a commentator has nothing left if he loses that. I fired off a solicitor's letter demanding an apology. I have before and probably will again defend my pursuit of the truth against any attack." But Hook now says he is "truly sorry".

"However, I was wrong. Not wrong to be upset, but wrong not to understand the pressure that an international professional sportsman faces when outside influences impact on his life while preparing for the biggest events of his career. I am sure that his focus for the Italy game was not helped by me and for that I am truly sorry."

Last night, on 'The Late Late Show', Hook said he regretted "what he did" but did not say whether he would continue or drop his case against Sexton.

"I must defend my integrity," he said. "I have to protect my reputation."

Hook said he was angry and hurt by Sexton's comments, but he said he won't be silenced on brain damage in rugby.

"If I tell lies about brain damage in rugby...that may lead to dementia, Alzheimer's, suicide, drug abuse, domestic violence, then I am a charlatan. If I am a charlatan, I should be drummed off the national airwaves and the national newspapers."

"This is the most important thing I have ever done in my life and I won't be silenced," he added.

Irish Independent

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