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Sunday 18 March 2018

'Sunday Times' probe into how Myers article was published

Columnist 'surprised' by public anger as pressure grows on editor

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

Cormac McQuinn and Shane Phelan

The 'Sunday Times' is conducting a review of how last weekend's controversial Kevin Myers column came to be published in the Irish edition of the newspaper.

It is understood the measure was ordered by management at the newspaper's headquarters in London following uproar over the article.

It is thought the outcome could be communicated to senior Irish editorial executives later this week.

Mr Myers apologised in a radio interview yesterday for the piece widely described as "misogynistic" and "anti-Semitic".

The newspaper's Ireland editor Frank Fitzgibbon apologised on Sunday for the "error of judgment" which led to the article being published.

However, neither he nor senior management at the newspaper's London headquarters have responded to further queries about how the error occurred.

In the article, headlined 'Sorry ladies, equal pay has to be earned', Mr Myers pointed out that two of the best-paid women presenters in the BBC, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, are Jewish.

He said Jews were not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price.

The comment caused uproar, as did Mr Myers's argument that men usually work harder, get sick less frequently and "seldom get pregnant".

Dozens of complaints are now being examined by the Press Ombudsman.

Meanwhile, former tánaiste Joan Burton has said newspaper editors need to ensure articles which are grossly prejudicial to women should never be published.

Ms Burton welcomed Mr Myers's apology, but said steps should be taken to ensure similar pieces are not published in future.

"Gross prejudice against women should have no place in modern journalism and it is an editor's responsibility to ensure the kind of prejudice we've seen this week doesn't happen again," she said.

Mr Myers said it was down to his own "stupidity" and that he did not want to blame others.

However, he revealed up to six people may have seen the column within the newspaper before it went to press.

Mr Myers said he would guess the article was seen by five or six people in the newspaper's Dublin and London offices before it was published and no one came back to him with any queries.

"Just on this particular day a number of people nodded on duty and let something through that shouldn't have got through and it did get through," he told RTÉ's 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' show.

Mr Myers said he got a call from one of his editors on Sunday morning saying there had been "an online uproar" over his column.

He said both he and the editor were "surprised" by the reaction. Mr Myers's account of events has not been disputed by the newspaper.

A request for further comment was made to Mr Fitzgibbon yesterday, but no response was forthcoming. He attended the newspaper's office in Ringsend, Dublin, as normal yesterday and hosted a number of scheduled meetings.

In his statement on Sunday, he said: "This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people."

The 'Sunday Times' press office in London declined to say if any further action was being considered in the aftermath of the controversy.

Irish Independent

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