Chef won't skip Irish date despite shoplifting shame
CELEBRITY chef Antony Worrall Thompson will be the star attraction at a fundraising dinner here on Saturday despite being cautioned for stealing wine and cheese from a supermarket.
Organiser Kevin Flanigan last night confirmed the 'Ready Steady Cook' star will still be the chief guest at a cook-off to raise funds for his son Scott Flanigan and Ger Owens in their bid to compete at the 2012 Olympics.
"We spoke with him today and it's definitely going ahead. We're delighted," Mr Flanigan, a Malahide-based auctioneer, told the Irish Independent.
Scott Flanigan (18) and Mr Owens (32), a double Olympian, are hoping to qualify as an independent team for the London Olympics, competing in the 470cm-dinghy class sailing race.
Scott last night said he was delighted Mr Thompson would still appear at the €100-a-head dinner despite the negative publicity surrounding his shoplifting incident.
"It shows great character for him to come over and do this to support us," he said.
The 60-year-old chef yesterday issued a public apology for his "stupid and irresponsible actions" after he was arrested for shoplifting from his local Tesco in Oxfordshire last Friday.
In a posting on his website, he said he had to undergo therapy and apologised for the embarrassment caused to his friends and family.
"I am so sorry for all my recent stupid and irresponsible actions. I am, of course, devastated for my family and friends, whom I've let down, and will seek the treatment that is clearly needed," he said.
"I am not the first and I certainly won't be the last person to do something without rhyme or reason -- what went through my head, only time will tell.
"I must also apologise sincerely to Tesco, with whom I've had a long and genuine working relationship, and to all the staff at the Henley branch, many of whom I've got to know over the years. Once again, I am so sorry."
Mr Thompson, who has seen a number of his restaurants go into administration during the recession, was caught on camera stuffing some items into bags without scanning them in a self-service checkout at the shop on five occasions between December 22 and January 6.
He was stopped by store security in front of shocked shoppers as he tried to leave the shop. He was later arrested and cautioned by police.
Mr Flanigan declined to comment on the incident. But he said the chef, whose wife Jacinta Shiel is related to a local family, remains happy to lend his support to the fundraiser in which more than 120 people have already paid €100 each.
The event, at Malahide Rugby Club on January 14, hopes to raise €10,000 on the night to cover the team's training costs.
Most of the 120 seats have been sold, however the club is also auctioning off signed Munster and Leinster rugby jerseys.
Because the men have not yet qualified for the Olympics, they are not officially sponsored by the Irish Olympic Committee or other sporting body and have had to raise funds themselves even though Mr Owens has competed in the Athens and Beijing Olympics.
They are trying to raise about €100,000 to cover their travel, accommodation, food and boat rental cost.