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George Hook suspended by Newstalk over controversial rape case comments

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Broadcaster George Hook. Photo: Mark Condren

Broadcaster George Hook. Photo: Mark Condren

Broadcaster George Hook. Photo: Mark Condren

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.

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Newstalk show host George Hook Photo: David Conachy

Newstalk show host George Hook Photo: David Conachy

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.

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.

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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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