Monday 21 October 2019

Michael Colgan in his own words: 'I have been responsible for causing distress and I am truly sorry'

Michael Colgan Photo: Arthur Carron
Michael Colgan Photo: Arthur Carron

Michael Colgan

Last March, when I finally left the Gate, I was convinced that I had done a good job, believed that I had been a good boss, and that I was liked by all the staff.

Recent revelations have made it clear that this cannot have always been the case, and that over the years there were moments where, through misjudged behaviour, I caused upset to some of my co-workers. This realisation has been deeply distressing and I sincerely apologise to anyone who was ever made to feel upset.

I already knew that I was not politically correct, that I often sacrificed proper conduct for a punchline, and that, at times, could be too exacting as a boss. But realising that I have been responsible for causing distress to some of those with whom I worked so closely has shocked me, and I am truly sorry.

These realisations have come with great force and I see things differently now. I belatedly realise that the seed of the problem lay in the obscuring of lines between my work and my life, the unseen problem of overlap between work and play.

My life was my work, my work my life. My house became my office, my office became my home. My Thursday was the same as a Sunday and my 9am the same as 9pm. I led myself to believe that my colleagues were my friends. The lines had become blurred and I failed to see that when I spoke to my co-workers that we weren’t actually speaking as friends but that they remained employees and I should have respected the difference.

Read more: 'His behaviour was more than politically incorrect. I think it was abusive' - Grace Dyas on Michael Colgan's apology

I spent 33 years constantly assessing my relationship with the Gate audience but failed to properly assess the relationship I had with my staff. When they laughed at my jokes I thought it was because I was funny. I think now it was because I was their boss. When I read in a recent newspaper report that a former employee said that she thought she liked me but now realises she doesn’t, it shook me. I genuinely thought everyone at the Gate liked me.

The conversations we had in that office felt the very same as the conversations I had with friends. I am so sorry to think that during what I thought were good times, working with that highly talented team, that I failed to notice that there were some who were feeling something else. There is no doubt that if I could re-live my time there, I would act differently. I would strictly observe the boundaries and set a stronger code of ethics.

However, my behaviour should not be equated with sexual crimes. I take serious issue with much of the recent press and social media references to me. It is wrong that I have been the subject of gross insinuations and that my family have had to suffer totally false suggestions that I might be guilty of more than misjudged behaviour.

We are living in a climate where to be accused is now enough to be deemed guilty. It is a worrying indictment of our times that one can be put through such a public online trial with the media as judge and Twitter as jury.

But for the moment, the main purpose of this statement is to apologise to any person, in or out of the office, whom I have hurt. I would also like to apologise to any of my friends who may have been inadvertently upset due to my ebullient behaviour. Finally, I would like to apologise for any stress caused to the current board and management of the Gate. There is a new team in place there and the last thing I would have wanted to do is to distract them from the excellent work they have begun.

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