Tuesday 17 July 2018

Kevin Myers launches scathing attack on Sunday Times over his dismissal

Kevin Myers. Photo: Tony Gavin
Kevin Myers. Photo: Tony Gavin

Wayne O’Connor

Sacked journalist Kevin Myers launched an astonishing attack on the Sunday Times and those who supported his dismissal during a speech in Portlaoise.

He claimed to have been misrepresented in the aftermath of his final column for the newspaper. He added that the treatment he received afterwards would normally be reserved for “a paedophile, a rapist or an unrepentant terrorist”. He conceded the controversial column that led to his dismissal was “admittedly poor” but said his freedom of speech died the morning it was published.

Speaking at the James Fintan Lalor Autumn School Mr Myers also criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, author JK Rowling and former US President Bill Clinton’s daughter Chelsea Clinton for supporting his removal from the newspaper.

He also rounded on major news outlets in Ireland and the UK for their coverage of the affair.

"It was immediately labelled in the twitosphere as [a] toxic anti-Semitic rant. That went around the world in an hour or two and by 3.30am in the morning my career as a journalist was over while I slept and you slept.

"At 4am in the morning the editor of The Sunday Times was woken up and took down my column online and that pretty much was that. Anybody who knows me, such as the Jews of Ireland, knows that I am not anti-Semitic and I am and remain a firm friend of Israel.

"That made no difference to the two newsrooms - the RTE newsroom who know me and the BBC newsroom who don't know me. But I was the number one item on the news that day in Ireland and Britain.

"They were content to repeat the lies that I was an anti-Semite. Across the world that day I was the number one news story, even though North Korea had fired a missile the night before. My admittedly poor column became an excuse to destroy me.”

In quotes carried by the Leinster Express, he said he was amazed by the criticism he received from fellow journalists and well-known figures.

"That day, JK Rowling, who has 15 million followers in America, joined in the internet lynch mob. One of her followers was Chelsea Clinton. She too has millions of followers. We have an exponentially growing campaign against me describing me as what I am not.

“At midday I was told I was fired by The Sunday Times. The editor of The Sunday Times made a statement to the press. Not only was I being fired but I would never ever be employed by The Sunday Times again.

"This is the kind of punishment you reserve for a paedophile, for a rapist, for an unrepentant terrorist. There was, of course, no process, no due process, no enquiry, no phone conversation, nothing. I was fired for all time.

“The worst damage came from the Taoiseach [Leo Varadkar] and Tánaiste [Frances Fitzgerald]. When I thought I was steadying the ship, the Taoiseach not merely applauded my dismissal but by extension, he applauded my being banned for the rest of my life by the Sunday Times without any due process, consultation and without even a single phone call.”

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