Journalist Andre Walker has said that Waitrose knew their magazine editor was joking in an email where he joked about "killing vegans”, but the supermarket is “too afraid of twitter trolls”.
William Sitwell resigned on Wednesday following criticism of his email response to freelance journalist, Selene Nelson, who had contacted him with an idea for a feature of plant-based recipes for the magazine.
Mr Walker told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “This is not a serious comment. The idea of killing vegans one by one was clearly a flippant comment.
“Where it becomes serious is when someone has plainly made a joke and has been hounded out of a job.”
“The truth of the matter is that this is economics.
“Waitrose knows he is joking, the woman having a go at him knows he is joking, but the vegan twitter trolls have attacked.
“Waitrose are too afraid of the twitter trolls to stand up to them and say ‘wake up’.”
'Castigated by vegans'
Mr Walker added that it now felt that it was "systematic” of current UK society.
“It is systematic of a world where what you say is much more important than what you do,” he said.
“You think of this. Churchill defeats fascism but because he has made few off-colour remarks when he was alive then what we want to do is melt his statue.”
He added: “Donald Trump makes a joke that is maybe crass and offensive and the whole world goes into meltdown.
“Waitrose has announced it is going to have its own vegan aisle but now they are being castigated by vegans because of a joke.
“I am telling you what you say is more important than what you do.”
In an Instagram post, Mr Sitwell said the joke was "ill-judged" and reiterated his apology to anyone “genuinely offended” by his comments.
He wrote: "To reiterate my apology to any food- and life-loving vegan who was genuinely offended by remarks written by me as an ill-judged joke in a private email and now widely reported.”