John Galliano (left) is consoled by Rabbi Barry Marcus during the emotional event.

John Galliano (left) is consoled by Rabbi Barry Marcus during the emotional event.

What to think of the new and improved John Galliano? Can an anti-Semite ever be anything other?

What to make of a man who, four years ago, declared he “loved Hitler” to someone he thought was Jewish, adding: “People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f****** gassed.”

Fired then convicted, Galliano later explained his behaviour by saying he was a hard-working alcoholic.

This invited columnist Barbara Ellen to observe that “non-anti-Semites don’t embark on anti-Semitic rants, however drunk they might be… because when you’re sloshed, you’re not at your cleverest or most inventive – i.e. what’s not already inside is unlikely to come out”.

Yet Rabbi Marcus of Central Synagogue is prepared to vouch for him, saying recently that “to brand [Galliano] an anti-Semite would be an injustice”. Rabbi Marcus has taken thousands of young people to Auschwitz, and counts Holocaust survivors among his synagogue members, so his word carries some considerable weight. He says he “took some flak” for his decision to counsel Galliano, after French Jewry snubbed its collective nose at him. Was Marcus right to take him on?

Can this designer ever really change his leopard-skin spots? Or is Marcus simply being used, conned, as many think, so Galliano can publicly repent and make his catwalk comeback, a racist no more? Answers on a postcard.