The media row sparked by a high-tempered Sky News discussion of the Orlando nightclub shooting was revived today by suggestions the presenter concerned had been sacked.
Owen Jones and Julia Hartley-Brewer both took to Twitter following an article in the Daily Mail that questioned whether upsetting the “Left-wing rabble rouser” was a “sackable offence” given Mark Longhurt’s departure from Sky.
The two pundits had been involved in a fierce argument in June over whether the shooting in a gay nightclub in Florida that left 49 left was a “homophobic terrorist attack”.
Longhurst’s interjections as the paper review chair saw Jones storm off set, saying as he left it was “the most astonishing thing I’ve ever been involved in on television”.
But Jones strongly denied the claims published today by diarist Sebastian Shakespeare that Longhurst had been let go because of their altercation.
He called the reports “false” and added they were “nothing to do with me”.
After a deluge of angry responses, which included people accusing Jones of always making situations about himself, the columnist retorted:
Hartley-Brewer also responded to Longhurst’s news, choosing not to refer to the foray but paying tribute to his more than 30 year-long broadcast career.
She described him as “a consummate professional and a pleasure to work with”, adding his was “a big loss” to Sky News.
Last month, Ofcom announced it would not investigate complaints about the Sky segment despite receiving 253 complaints.
The broadcast watchdog had been asked to decide whether Longhurst and Hartley-Brewer appeared to “dismiss Jones’s view that the attack... specifically targeted the LGBT community”.
It said in a statement after: “After careful consideration, we won’t be taking the matter forward for investigation.”
Hartley-Brewer said in the aftermath of her on-air debate with Jones that she was “still at a loss as to what Owen found so disgusting”.
Jones, meanwhile, put his storming out of the Sky studio down to “an instinctive reaction to an unpleasant and untenable situation”.
His comment read: “As the presenter responsible for chairing the conversation, I regret that the segment ended as it did.
“I absolutely accept the atrocity in Florida was, of course, an attack on LGBT people, but I was also trying to reflect what was on the newspaper front pages.
“It was never my intention to offend Owen Jones and I very much look forward to working with him again in future.”