‘War on language’: Laurence Fox defends Alastair Stewart

The broadcaster has stepped down

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Actor and musician Laurence Fox has come out in support of ITV News veteran Alastair Stewart who has stepped down from presenting because of a social media “misjudgement”.

Though ITN has not confirmed which of Mr Stewart’s posts “breached” its editorial guidelines, the journalist has faced accusations of racism for a tweet in which he uses a Shakespeare quote referring to an “angry ape” during a discussion with a black man.

But Mr Fox has dismissed criticism of the 67-year-old, tweeting: “There is a war on language.”

The post continues: “These authoritarian, totalitarian ideologues want to scare you into silence by forcing racism into every word and thought.

“They have exploited our tolerance and our decency. They are the exact thing they accuse you of.”

Many believe this tweet led to the decision

Earlier this month, Mr Fox was himself caught up in a racism row when he appeared on Question Time and rejected the idea that Meghan Markle had been subject unfair criticism because of her bi-racial heritage.

At the time he told talkRADIO that identity politics is “extremely racist” and “is doing nothing but dividing us”.

But Martin Shapland, whose Twitter exchange is thought to have led to Mr Stewart’s departure, has said the issue was not in a single post but several which have “now been deleted”.

In a statement on Twitter he said Mr Stewart had “caused hurt and upset, intentionally or otherwise”.

READ: Martin Shapland's full statement 

Mr Shapland said an apology would have been sufficient and that he takes “no pleasure” in the broadcaster’s decision to step down, wishing him the best for the future.

He concluded: “Civil and political discourse has become far too viscious in the last five years.

“I would ask that we try to treat each other with a little more respect, kindness and understanding.”

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