Veteran newsreader Alastair Stewart is stepping down from his presenting roles at ITV News after “errors of judgement” on his social media.
The journalist, whose on screen career has spanned 40 years, has deleted his Twitter account but after last night’s announcement said that he had made a “misjudgement which I regret.”
ITN said in a statement that his use of social media “breached” its editorial guidelines, but it did not elaborate on what this referred to.
However, the move comes after a tweet posted by the 67-year-old on January 13 drew accusations of racism.
Stewart used a quote from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure that included the phrase “angry ape” during a disagreement with Martin Shapland, who is black.
Mr Shapland branded the newsreader a “disgrace” in response, saying he referred to him as an ape “with the cover of Shakespeare”.
But some Twitter users have come to the broadcaster’s defence, arguing that he had previously used the quote in response to tweets and did not use it in reference to race.
Columnist Paul Embery wrote: “When I hear the word ‘ape’, I don’t immediately think ‘black person’. But thank God that people who do instinctively think ‘black person’ when hearing ‘ape’ are around to remind people like me that we are racist for not thinking it.”
Meanwhile, fellow ITV News journalists Mary Nightingale and Julie Etchingham were among those to comment on the announcement, saying Stewart would be missed.
Nightingale wrote on Twitter: "Very sad about the departure of #AlastairStewart.
“He was a good friend and mentor to me when I started at Carlton TV, and we worked together for more than 27 years. I will miss him.”
Etchingham tweeted: “So sad to learn this - we have worked on many big stories together & Al is a trusted friend and guide to many of us.”
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