Saturday 18 August 2018

Press council probe launched into Myers 'anti-Semitic' piece as columnist sacked by Sunday Times

Complaint to Press Council of Ireland and Press Ombudsman

Claudia Winkelman (centre) and Vanessa Feltz (right) were mentioned in a column by Kevin Myers (left)
Claudia Winkelman (centre) and Vanessa Feltz (right) were mentioned in a column by Kevin Myers (left)
Kevin Myers Photo: Tony Gavin
Vanessa Feltz
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Controversial columnist Kevin Myers has been dropped from the 'Sunday Times' and the newspaper forced to apologise for causing "offence to Jewish people" after a piece he wrote was deemed to be anti-Semitic.

Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the 'Sunday Times Ireland', said the column "contained views that have caused considerable distress and upset to a number of people". He further confirmed that Mr Myers will "not write again for the 'Sunday Times Ireland'" after the column published yesterday morning.

Claudia Winkleman
Claudia Winkleman

Gideon Falter, chair of the UK-based Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, welcomed the move, noting "we've been contacted by people today who are utterly disgusted".

The organisation has also lodged formal complaints with the Press Council of Ireland and the Office of Press Ombudsman as well as its UK counterpart, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

Mr Falter said the "utterly vile" column used offensive stereotypes about Jews, and it was "beyond surprising to read something like this in a national newspaper in 2017".

The 'Sunday Times' will publish a full apology in its next edition after removing the column from its website yesterday.

Mr Fitzgibbon said in a statement: "As the editor of the Ireland edition, I take full responsibility for this error of judgment. This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people."

His UK counterpart Martin Ivens, editor of the 'Sunday Times', said that Mr Myers's comments were "unacceptable and should not have been published".

Vanessa Feltz
Vanessa Feltz

He added: "It has been taken down and we sincerely apologise for both the remarks and the error of judgment that led to publication."

The 'Sunday Times' column appeared in the newspaper's Comment section yesterday with the headline 'Sorry ladies - equal pay has to be earned'.

Amid the ongoing discussion on the gender pay controversy, Mr Myers wrote that BBC presenters Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, "two of the best paid women presenters in the BBC with whose, no doubt, sterling work I am tragically unacquainted - are Jewish".

He added: "Good for them. Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity. I wonder, who are their agents?"

Horrified

Ms Feltz was reported to be "absolutely horrified by this" while the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism yesterday asked for confirmation that Mr Myers would never again work for another title owned by News UK, which publishes the Irish and UK editions of the 'Sunday Times' as well as the 'Irish Sun' and its UK editions.

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

The article also controversially questioned why only one woman is among the top 10 best paid presenters at the BBC.

"Now why is this?" Mr Myers asked.

"Is it because men are more charismatic performers? Because they work harder? Because they are more driven? Possibly a bit of both," he said.

He also claimed the HR department at the BBC "will probably tell you that men usually work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant ... But most of all, men tend to be more ambitious: they have that greyback testosterone-powered, hierarchy-climbing id that feminised and egalitarian-obsessed legislatures are increasingly trying to legislate against".

The controversy, however, did not stop Mr Myers from appearing in a panel discussion yesterday at the inaugural West Cork History Festival in Clonakilty.

He was a panellist discussing the commemoration of Irish soldiers who fought in World War I.

Among his co-panellists was Rabbi Julia Neuberger, one of the first women in the UK to become a rabbi.

Rabbi Neuberger, who is a senior rabbi at the West London Synagogue, is also a member of the House of Lords and a high-profile writer and commentator.

Despite the controversy, she sat alongside Mr Myers during the panel discussion. However, Mr Myers did not address the controversy over his column during the event.

Meanwhile, an article by Mr Myers published in the 'Irish Independent' on March 4, 2009, is no longer available online as it does not comply with our editorial ethos.

The article on the Holocaust was removed on July 30, 2017 after its existence was brought to our attention.

Irish Independent

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