Sunday Times forced to apologise for printing 'anti-Semitic' column on BBC pay

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The Sunday Times has been forced to apologise for printing “anti-Semitic” comments in a column which suggested that Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz are among the best paid BBC women because they are Jewish.

The newspaper’s editor Martin Ivens said the comments were “unacceptable” and it was an “error of judgement” that they were printed.

The column, penned by Kevin Myers, appeared in the Irish edition of the newspaper and was titled “Sorry, ladies – equal pay has to be earned”.  It has now been removed from The Sunday Times’ website and digital edition.

 Vanessa Feltz

 Vanessa Feltz

 Ray Burmiston

He wrote: “I note that two of the best-paid women presenters in the BBC — Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, with whose, no doubt, sterling work I am tragically unacquainted — are Jewish. Good for them.

“Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity.”

In the article, Mr Myers also argued that male presenters may earn more because they “work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant”.  

Kevin Myers

Kevin Myers

Gideon Falter, chair of Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, has complained to Ipso, the press regulator, about the article. “This was an utterly vile column which deployed well-worn anti-Semitic tropes about Jews,” he said.

“This must be the end of Kevin Myers’ notorious journalistic career and News UK must now confirm that they will never again allow him to write for any of their titles.”

Mr Falters said that the article has breached clauses 12(i) and 12(ii) of the Editors’ Code by making discriminatory comments about Jews and also mentioning the religion of the Jewish BBC presenters at all.

 Claudia Winkleman

 Claudia Winkleman

 Rex Features

Martin Ivens, editor of the Sunday Times, 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 comments in a column by Kevin Myers in today’s Irish edition of the Sunday Times were unacceptable and should not have been publishedMartin Ivens, editor of the Sunday Times

Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Sunday Times in Ireland, also issued a statement apologising “unreservedly” for the article, saying he takes “full responsibility” for its publication. 

“It contained views that have caused considerable distress and upset to a number of people,” he said. “As the editor of the Ireland edition I take full responsibility for this error of judgment. This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people.”

This is not the first time that The Sunday Times has been accused of printing anti-Semitic content. In 2013, Rupert Murdoch issued a “major” apology for a “grotesque, offensive” cartoon which was printed in the newspaper.

The cartoon, which depicted Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, building a wall using what appeared to be the blood of Palestinians as cement, was published on Holocaust Memorial Day.  

The Board of Deputies of British said the cartoon, was “shockingly reminiscent” of pictures used in “the virulently anti-Semitic Arab press”, and evoked the “blood libel,” a persistent myth that Jews secretly use human blood in their religious rituals.