Saturday 24 March 2018

'Sunday Times' editors quizzed in Kevin Myers probe

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

Shane Phelan and Niall O'Connor

Senior editorial executives at the Irish edition of the 'Sunday Times' have been spoken to as part of the internal inquiry into how last weekend's controversial Kevin Myers column came to be published.

An editor from the newspaper's headquarters in London flew in to Dublin yesterday as part of the review, which is expected to be completed by the end of the week.

Ireland editor Frank Fitzgibbon and associate editor John Burns were among those spoken to by 'Sunday Times' executive editor Bob Tyrer as part of the process, the Irish Independent understands.

Mr Fitzgibbon posted a series of tweets on Saturday night before publication of the article telling users what was in the newspaper. Mr Burns is his deputy and regularly points out what he sees as failings in other media. He has a column in the paper and also a media commentary column.

Other team members are also thought to be assisting in the internal review.

Mr Fitzgibbon, thought to be in his early 60s, is known for his waspish comments on social media and oversaw the title when its Irish edition ran an editorial in support of Brexit.

Journalist and author Kevin Myers was sacked by the ‘Sunday Times’ after the publication of his column. Photo: Tony Gavin
Journalist and author Kevin Myers was sacked by the ‘Sunday Times’ after the publication of his column. Photo: Tony Gavin

Read More: 'Comments on Jews were meant as compliment'

Several years ago, some commentators had tipped him as a possible 'Sunday Independent' editor, but that did not come to pass.

The newspaper remains under considerable pressure to explain how the column came to be published.

In the piece, Mr Myers named two high-earning female BBC presenters, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz. He noted they were both Jewish and said Jews were not generally known for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price.

Mr Myers said on Monday he guessed it would have been seen by five or six people after he filed it to the newspaper.

None of these people raised any queries with him, he has now said. He also said one of his editors was "surprised" by the "online uproar" over the column.

His account has not been disputed by the 'Sunday Times'. The newspaper has refused to discuss what action it is taking to investigate the issue.

Its press office has said it has nothing to add to an earlier statement in which Mr Fitzgibbon apologised unreservedly and took "full responsibility for this error of judgment".

However, news that a review had been ordered emerged on Tuesday night. It is understood the review should be completed by the end of the week.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday, Mr Myers said his career was "in tatters" and he had no reputation left.

"An awful lot of Irish people know who I am and they understand my position and they sympathise with me. They know I am not an anti-Semite," he said.

"The 'Sunday Times' didn't give me an opportunity to explain myself and they sacked me almost without notice on Sunday morning," he said.

Irish Independent

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