Saturday 20 July 2019

'Way too soon to tell' if George Hook will face formal internal investigation over rape comments

George Hook set to lose show's sponsorship over rape comments

George Hook, pictured here with wife Ingrid, apologised for the comments. Photo: Kieran Harnett
George Hook, pictured here with wife Ingrid, apologised for the comments. Photo: Kieran Harnett

Allison Bray

Veteran Newstalk broadcaster George Hook faces a dressing-down by management today over offensive comments he made on his 'High Noon' show that has cost it its sponsorship.

But a source close to the station said it was "way too soon to tell" if he would face a formal internal investigation or disciplinary action after station's managing editor Patricia Monahan said the comments were "totally wrong and inappropriate and should never have been made".

"He said something he shouldn't have said and there will always be a review," the source told the Irish Independent last night.

Dalata Hotel Group, which owns Clayton Hotels, issued a tweet last night in which it said the company would "terminate our commercial relationship" with the station, tweeting earlier "@Dalatahotels cannot support any radio station that allows inappropriate & hurtful comments to be made".

Officials from the company could not be reached for comment last night.

But CEO Pat McCann had told 'The Sunday Business Post' that Mr Hook's remarks on Friday could lead it to reconsider its sponsorship its contract comes up for renewal next month.

Mr Hook's comments arose from an on-going rape trial in the UK. It is alleged that a young woman, who had sex with one member of the UK swim team after meeting him in a bar, was later raped by another man in the same hotel room.

"But when you then look deeper into the story you have to ask certain questions. Why does a girl who just meets a fella in a bar go back to a hotel room? She's only just barely met him. She has no idea of his health conditions, she has no idea who he is, no idea what dangers he might pose," said Mr Hook.

"But is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger? You then of course read that she passed out on the toilet and when she woke up the guy was trying to rape her. There is personal responsibility because it's your daughter and my daughter."

His comments generated a flood of outrage. However, he took to the airwaves on Saturday to "apologise unreservedly".

"It was unacceptable to suggest in any way that blame could be attributed to victims of rape. I apologise for the comments which caused hurt and offence, and for this I am truly sorry," he said.

But Mr McCann said: "George Hook is fundamentally out of touch with reality. I am the father of two daughters and I find those types of comments totally unacceptable."

Speaking to following the broadcast of the show on Friday, rape victim and campaigner Fiona Doyle said Mr Hook's comments were "outrageous and offensive".

Her father Patrick O'Brien (79) was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2013 for raping and sexually abusing his daughter from 1973 to 1982.

Ms Doyle said: "Victim-blaming is all too familiar to women in Ireland. George is giving the message that men can do what they want and it is the drunken woman who is to blame. Women have the right to be drunk. They have the right to say no. They have the right to walk down the street naked if they wish. Men have no right to rape a woman and people like George Hook need to stop circulating the message that women are to blame."

Ellen O'Malley Dunlop, of the National Women's Council, said: "To in any way victim-blame is totally unacceptable."

Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said the incident underscored the need for media guidelines on reporting rape.

Irish Independent

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