Thursday 23 January 2020

'Sunday Times' small apology for 'overstepping the mark' following publishing of Kevin Myers' column

Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the ‘Sunday Times Ireland’
Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the ‘Sunday Times Ireland’ Newsdesk Newsdesk

The Sunday Times has today published an apology following the appearance of a column which has been branded anti-Semitic and misogynistic in the Ireland edition of the newspaper last week.

In the piece, author Kevin Myers referred to the Jewish faith of high-earning BBC presenters Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, stating Jews are "not generally known for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest-possible price," which both women said they found deeply offensive.

More than 50 complaints have been made to the Office of the Press Ombudsman over the piece, which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and others have branded "anti-Semitic and misogynistic".

In the apology with the title 'Overstepping the mark' the paper said that the column "included unacceptable comments that caused offence to many, in particular to the Jewish community".

Journalist and author Kevin Myers was sacked by the ‘Sunday Times’ after the publication of his column. Photo: Tony Gavin
Journalist and author Kevin Myers was sacked by the ‘Sunday Times’ after the publication of his column. Photo: Tony Gavin

The four paragraph apology from the Sunday Times added that the article was removed and the two female BBC presenters named in the piece were apologised to.

"Newspapers publish controversial articles that often cause upset. It is important to generate forthright debate about issues affecting our lives.

"It is also important, however, not to publish comments that overstep the mark. Where this column did so, we are deeply sorry."

The paper also includes a number of readers comments in relation to the column - and its publishing - in 'Letters to the Editor', one titled 'Editorial failure of anti-Semitism'.

Marriage Equality Chairwoman Gráinne Healy labelled the apology as "horrendous" in an interview on RTE's Marian Finucane Show.

"[The apology] doesn't even mention one of the key elements [of the column]...That man has a history of stating dreadful things about, in particular, women."

"The man has lost his job, he paid his price... but personally I stopped reading Kevin Myers ten years ago."

An internal review was initiated in the 'Sunday Times' this week into how the column came to be published.

It is not known when senior officials from News UK, which publishes both the Irish and UK editions of 'The Sunday Times', will release the findings of their internal inquiry into how the column was published.

Meanwhile, it will be a number of weeks before the Press Ombudsman issues a decision on complaints made about Kevin Myers, who was dismissed by the Sunday Times.

The Ombudsman, Peter Feeney, said the newspaper's editor must be given two weeks to respond to complaints before the matter can be even considered by his office.

In an interview on Tuesday on RTE Radio, Mr Myers said he was not an anti-Semite and had intended the reference as a compliment "for how Jewish people behave, to maximise your potential because nobody else will do it for you".

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