Richard Keys attacks 'dark forces at work' in Sky Sports sexism row
Richard Keys has blamed "dark forces at work" for escalating the Sky Sports sexism row, which has led to the dismissal of his former partner Andy Gray and put his own job on the line.
In a detailed, frank and intriguing interview, Keys said he apologised to Sian Massey on Sunday afternoon – just hours after the initial Molineux recording was leaked to the Mail on Sunday – but was told by his employer that his apology could not be made public.
"We were wrong. It was wrong. It shouldn't have happened, but there are some dark forces at work here," said an emotional Keys on TalkSport.
"From something that was controllable, I have found the reaction to be extraordinary. I cannot believe the frenzy that's blown up. If I had been able to get out the fact that I'd apologised on Sunday I don't think it would have been as frenzied as it has been."
"I made an official apology to Sian on behalf of Andy and myself. This was on Sunday afternoon – not on Monday at 5pm as was later reported. Sian and I enjoyed some banter, and we left on very good terms. I expressed my disappointment that Andy and I, in misguidedly having a little fun, got it wrong. It was wrong.
"I've been trying to find an opportunity to have my say about the firestorm that's raging out there. An awful lot of inaccurate reporting has gone on."
Keys said that the success of Sky over the last 20 years had created enemies within the media, and claimed it was unfair to lambast broadcasters for off-air comments.
"With success comes envy," he said. "The clips you have seen are fairly selective. They have targeted two individuals.
"There is a row going on over phone tapping at the moment. What's the difference? If off-air conversations were made public then there would be no one left working in the country."
While Keys was on-air, Gray's first public statement was released: "I am very sorry that certain comments made by me have caused offence. Such comments were made off-air to work colleagues, and were of course never intended to be broadcast.
"I was very upset when the comments were brought to my attention, and it was my intention to apologise on Monday night when I was back on air for the Bolton v Chelsea game.
"Sadly I was unable to do so as I was suspended from the show by Sky Sports and have now been sacked. Football is my life and I am devastated by losing the job that I love."
Keys denied he was sexist, describing the tone of the off-air comments as "lads mag banter", but conceded his future was in the balance.
"It's a possibility, or a probability, that I may go," he said. "And I have a decision to make about whether I want to carry on without Andy, who has rewritten the book on sports broadcasting in this country."
Keys revealed that he had attempted to apologise to Karren Brady, the West Ham director, who was also insulted in the Molineux recording. But, with his tone ranging between apologetic and defiant, Keys suggested that Brady may have exploited the situation for her own ends.
"I tried to ring Karren twice on Sunday night to apologise. There is no answerphone on her phone. Perhaps that's reflective of the situation at West Ham," he added, laughing.
"I texted Karren to ask her to call me or accept my calls. It helped to keep West Ham out of the paper, I guess."