UK

Kevin Myers Says 'Anti-Semitic' Column Was 'Out Of Respect For The Religion'

Writer apologises but ...

01/08/2017 17:55 BST

The writer sacked by The Sunday Times for a column slammed as anti-Semitic has said he made the remarks out of “respect for the religion” as he apologised for causing offence.

In his controversial column essaying the gender pay gap at the BBC, Kevin Myers highlighted two well-paid female Jewish BBC presenters - Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz - and said: “Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price”.

He added this was the “most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity”.

“I wonder who are their agents? If they’re the same ones that negotiated the pay for the women on the lower scales, then maybe the latter have found their true value in the marketplace,” he wrote.

Feltz said on Monday the comments represented “horrifying racism”.

Myers on Tuesday told Irish broadcaster RTÉ that he was “very, very sorry”, adding:

“I really mean this because I am not rescuing anything - it is over for me professionally as far as I can see - I am very, very sorry that I should have so offended them.

“I do utter an apology, not for any reason other than out of genuine contrition for the hurt I had caused them.”

He added:

“But I did so, I uttered those words, out of respect for the religion from which they come and for the religion that I still hold in regard in high regard, particularly the Irish members of that religion who have been so forthright in their defence of me generally.”

The Jewish Representative Council of Ireland has said branding him “as either an anti-Semite or a Holocaust denier is an absolute distortion of the facts”.

In a statement, it said “more than any other Irish journalist” Myers had “written columns about the details of the Holocaust over the last three decades”. 

The piece, printed in the Sunday Times Ireland and published on the Times’ website, was deleted following a huge backlash.

In the widely-condemned column titled “Sorry ladies - equal pay has to be earned”,  Myers criticised “the tiresome monotone consensus of the commentariat, all wailing and shrieking as one about how hard done by are the women of the BBC”.

The Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens said: “The comments in a column by Kevin Myers in today’s Irish edition of The Sunday Times were unacceptable and should not have been published.

“It has been taken down and we sincerely apologise both for the remarks and the error of judgement that led to publication.”

The newspaper later added: “Further to our earlier statement we can confirm that Kevin Myers will not write again for the Sunday Times Ireland.

“A printed apology will appear in next week’s paper. The Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens has also apologised personally to Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz for these unacceptable comments both to Jewish people and to women in the workplace.”