Sunday Times apologises over ‘anti-Semitic’ columnist

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The Sunday Times has apologised and said it abhors anti-Semitism after a columnist in Ireland provoked controversy with comments on high-profile women working at the BBC.

Kevin Myers noted that two of the best-paid female presenters in the Corporation, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, were Jewish as part of a critical article on the row over its gender pay gap.

Editor Martin Ivens said the remarks in Sunday’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.”

Mr Myers has been an outspoken columnist for a range of newspapers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for many years.

He pointed out that two of the best-paid women presenters in the BBC, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, 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.”

As part of his comments on pay, Mr Myers also argued that men usually work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant.

• READ MORE: BBC star salaries revealed: two-thirds of top earners are men

Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Sunday Times Ireland, said the column contained views that have caused considerable distress and upset to a number of people.

“As the editor of the Ireland edition, I take full responsibility for this error of judgement.

“This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people.”

The Campaign Against Anti Semitism asked for confirmation that Mr Myers will never again work for a News UK title, and that the apology will appear in the print edition.

The director-general of the BBC has said he will “value (the) contribution” of more than 40 senior female presenters and reporters who signed a letter demanding immediate action from him to tackle the gender pay gap.

Lord (Tony) Hall said work was under way to close disparities between how much men and women are paid at the corporation.

His response follows a letter, signed by the likes of Clare Balding, Emily Maitlis and Fiona Bruce, which called for action to sort out pay inequality “now”, rather than by Lord Hall’s self-imposed 2020 timescale.

The original letter, coordinated by Woman’s Hour host Jane Garvey, came after documents setting out the pay for staff on more than £150,000 showed a sizeable gap in the earnings of the corporation’s best-known male and female presenters and actors.

Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans topped the list on more than £2 million, while the highest-paid woman was Strictly’s Claudia Winkleman on between £450,000 and £499,999.