Vanessa Feltz brands Times column ‘horrifying racism’

Vanessa Feltz brands Times column ‘horrifying racism’

BBC presenter describes article which suggested she is paid more because she's Jewish, 'so blatantly racist'

Vanessa Feltz
Vanessa Feltz

BBC presenter Vanessa Feltz has described a Sunday Times column that suggested she and Claudia Winkleman are well paid because they are Jewish as “horrifying racism”.

She said the piece by columnist Kevin Myers was “every vile stereotype about what Jewish people have ever been deemed to be by racists”.

Speaking on the breakfast show on BBC Radio London, Ms Feltz questioned how something “so blatantly racist” was allowed in the paper.

“When someone alerted me to it … I couldn’t believe such a thing had been printed. It is absolutely gratuitous, not cleverly done, it’s blatant racism. When you see it like that it’s very horrifying,” said Ms Feltz.

She added: “The editor personally rung me to apologise. He said he was horrified.”

Ms Feltz said the piece was hurtful and that she could not understand how, with all the layers a story has to go through before it is published, something so blatantly racist had been allowed in the paper.

The Times article, with the offensive passage
The Times article, with the offensive passage

Editor Martin Ivens said the piece, which was in the Irish edition and online, should not have been published.

The newspaper removed an online version of the piece on Sunday morning amid a wave of outrage, but it appeared in printed editions of the newspaper across Ireland. Myers has been sacked by the paper.

The column, with the headline: “Sorry, ladies – equal pay has to be earned”, follows criticism of the BBC, after it was revealed two-thirds of its stars earning more than £150,000 are male.

Commenting that two of the best-paid female presenters, Winkleman and Feltz, were Jewish, Mr Myers wrote: “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.

“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.”

Times readers – who must pay a subscription to access online content – commented on the original article to express their disgust.

The article was taken down following anger on social media and a formal complaint from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism to press regulator Ipso.

Mr Ivens offered the paper’s “sincere apology, both for the remarks and the error of judgment that led to publication”.

The editor of the Sunday Times, Martin Ivens called JLC Chairman Jonathan Goldstein to apologise to the community.

Goldstein said: “We will meet in September and Mr Ivens has agreed then to discuss how this article managed to get through the editorial process.

“I am grateful for the swift initial steps taken by Mr Ivens. However, given the record-breaking rise in anti-Semitic incidents reported by CST and anti-Semitism’s unfortunate prominence in our national discourse over recent months, it is the editorial process that remains a concern.

Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Sunday Times Ireland, said he took “full responsibility”, adding: “This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people.”

A News UK spokesman said the column included “unacceptable comments both to Jewish people and to women in the workplace”.

The newspaper has said Mr Myers “will not write again” for the Sunday Times.

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