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Alastair Stewart accuser’s history of ‘anti-white bigotry’ revealed

The black Twitter user who accused ITV newsreader Alastair Stewart of calling him an ‘angry ape’ has said an apology would have been enough’ after he quit his job of more than 40 years. 

Lobbyist Martin Shapland, 34, says he ‘takes no pleasure’ in Mr Stewart, 67, standing down and described his decision as ‘regrettable’. 

Mr Shapland deleted his old tweets after he too was accused of racism following Twitter rants about ‘f***ing white privilege’.  

He said he ‘considers the matter closed’ and claimed he received a ‘death threat’ after Mr Stewart, who was Britain’s longest-serving male broadcaster, stepped down. 

Martin Shapland (pictured) was in a debate with Alastair Stewart on Twitter when the veteran newsreader quoted a passage from Shakespeare that included the words ‘angry ape’

Mr Shapland previously highlighted 'f***ing white privilege' in a series of social media posts

Mr Shapland previously highlighted ‘f***ing white privilege’ in a series of social media posts

Martin Shapland social media posts

Martin Shapland social media posts

In previous messages, he referred to a discussion on diversity last July (left), saying: ‘This panel is so rich and so white it’s basically a cheesecake’. Then in reference to a tweet from Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (right) about him campaigning in the rain last November, Mr Shapland said: ‘This is so white and miserable it’s like eating a cheesecake that’s quite soggy’

Mr Shapland, of east London, said today: ‘No one is perfect. We are all human. An apology and commitment to be more careful about language was all that I would have asked. 

‘It is regrettable that he has decided to stand down and I take no pleasure in that. He has evidently gone through and ITN and ITV process and I respect his choice’.

He added: ‘I consider the matter to be closed, accept Mr Stewart’s expression of regret and wish him the best for the future.’    

Accusations that Mr Shapland has ‘issues with White people’ came after he was revealed to have described groups of white people as ‘cheesecakes’.  

In previous messages online, Mr Shapland referred to a Radio Times discussion on diversity in radio last July, saying: ‘This panel is so rich and so white it’s basically a cheesecake’.

Then in reference to a tweet from Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg about him campaigning in the rain ahead of the General Election last November, Mr Shapland said: ‘This is so white and miserable it’s like eating a cheesecake that’s quite soggy.’

According to his LinkedIn page, Mr Shapland obtained a degree in modern history and political sciences from Birmingham University.

He has been a policy manager at the Institution of Civil Engineers for the past two years and was previously a House of Commons researcher. 

Twitter account Socialist Voice, which has 70,000 followers, posted a series of old social media messages from Mr Shapland, saying he has ‘issues with white people’. 

Who is Martin Shapland? Former Lib Dem researcher, 34, with a history degree

Martin Shapland, of Stratford, East London, is a former Liberal Democrat researcher

Martin Shapland, of Stratford, East London, is a former Liberal Democrat researcher

Martin Shapland, 34, is a former Liberal Democrat researcher who lives in Stratford, East London.

According to his LinkedIn page, Mr Shapland obtained a degree in modern history and political sciences from Birmingham University.

He has been a policy manager at the Institution of Civil Engineers for the past two years and was previously a House of Commons researcher.

His LinkedIn page says: ‘A professional with a background in campaigns, communications, policy and research working in Parliament and for volunteer organisations over the last eight years.’ 

The block where he lives has flats ranging in value from £220,000 to £560,000, according to Zoopla. It is not clear whether he has a partner.

Mr Shapland, whose Twitter account includes the description ‘Tweet in haste, repent at leisure’, told MailOnline at his home today: ‘I have just put something on Twitter and I have said all I have to say.’

Asked about the Twitter row between Me Stewart and its employee, an ICE spokesman said: ‘It is a private matter.’ 

They added: ‘Martin Shapland’s Twitter feed is full of anti-white bigotry – he also compares white people to ‘cheesecake’ and refers to white privilege.’ 

Today, Mr Shapland said a ‘private apology would have been more than sufficient’ from Mr Stewart, adding that it was ‘regrettable’ that the presenter quit last night.

Mr Shapland added that he had received a ‘torrent of abuse’ from people calling him ‘n***er ape’, a ‘f***ing idiot’, a ‘c**t’, ‘f***ing ape’ and ‘thick as s***’. 

Another accused him of putting forward a ‘baseless accusation of racism’ and said he ‘should be ready to be looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life’.

The 67-year-old newsreader said last night he was quitting after ‘a misjudgement which I regret’ on Twitter and told friends he was ‘very sad it was ending this way’.

Mr Shapland responded for the first time this afternoon to the reports of Mr Stewart quitting on Twitter. 

He tweeted: ‘Thank you to those who have been in touch in the last few days about Alastair Stewart. I apologise for not getting back to media enquiries more quickly in particular.

‘I am not planning to make on or off the record comments beyond the statement below and a few clarifying tweets.’

But he posted a statement that said: ‘In so far as Mr Stewart caused hurt and upset, intentionally or otherwise, in an exchange earlier this month, there is a wider context.

‘There was not a single post as has been widely reported, but several posts written by Mr Stewart, which have all now been deleted.

‘I understand that Mr Stewart has acknowledged the words he used were misjudged and has expressed regret at what happened. I thank him for that. 

‘Civil and political discourse has become far too vicious in the last five years. I would ask that we try to treat each other with a little more respect, kindness and understanding. 

‘In that spirit I consider this matter closed and I wish Mr Stewart the best in his future endeavours.’

Mr Shapland added: ‘Much of the context of the discussion was lost after tweets were deleted and I won’t go into detail here.

‘I do, however, want to clarify that I don’t know how ITN, ITV and Mr Stewart came to a conclusion or what background there was beyond any exchange I had with him.’ 

The Twitter account Socialist Voice, which has 70,000 followers, posted a series of old social media messages from Mr Shapland, saying he has ‘issues with white people’

The Twitter account Socialist Voice, which has 70,000 followers, posted a series of old social media messages from Mr Shapland, saying he has ‘issues with white people’

Alastair Stewart, pictured in November 2018, has stepped down from his presenting role at ITN

Alastair Stewart, pictured in November 2018, has stepped down from his presenting role at ITN

he added ‘I have taken the step of removing all of my Twitter posts. I have been on the receiving end of a torrent of abuse, and, by the same token, condemn any similar behaviour toward figures like (ITV presenter) Ranvir Singh, who I understand has faced similar comments.’

The Shakespeare quote at the heart of Alastair Stewart’s Twitter rift – and is it racist?

In a Twitter row Mr Stewart decided to quote a short passage from Measure by Measure by William Shakespeare.

The play was written in either 1603 or 1604 and is a dark comedy about a judge, Angelo, who leads the government in Vienna while the Duke is away.

The specific part Mr Stewart tweeted is a short speech by a character called Isabella, who has come to plead with Angelo for her brother’s life after he is sentenced to die.

Angelo refuses her request, and in response to him she says:  ‘But man, proud man,

‘Dress’d in a little brief authority,

‘Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d—

‘His glassy essence—like an angry ape

‘Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven

‘As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,

‘Would all themselves laugh mortal’

Experts say Shakespeare’s simile ‘like an angry ape’ used in Isabella’s tirade at Angelo is to show his reversion to a human being’s basic instincts such as self-preservation – rather than a racist trope. 

Speaking at his home in East London today, Mr Shapland told MailOnline: ‘I have just put something on Twitter and I have said all I have to say.’ 

Mr Stewart and Mr Shapland were debating the Royal Family’s finances online when the news anchor cited a passage from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure that included the phrase ‘angry ape’.

Mr Stewart wrote: ‘But man, proud man, Dress’d in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d – His glassy essence – like an angry ape.’

Describing Stewart as a disgrace, Mr Shapland shared the tweet and said: ‘Just an ITV newsreader referring to me as an ape.’

Colleagues have leapt to Mr Stewart’s defence, saying the broadcasting ‘legend’ had been ‘shunted out’. One insisted last night: ‘Alastair is not a racist.’ 

ITN said Mr Stewart was stepping down following ‘errors of judgement in Alastair’s use of social media which breached ITN’s editorial guidelines’.

It refused to give more details but several sources said it related to a Twitter spat on January 13.

Mr Shapland’s Twitter account includes the description ‘tweet in haste, repent at leisure’.

In later tweets in his spat with Mr Stewart he described the presenter’s behaviour as ‘ignorant bullying’ and suggested he should take lessons in etiquette.

Asked about the Twitter row between Mr Stewart and its employee Mr Shapland, a spokesman for the Institution of Civil Engineers said: ‘It is a private matter.’

 

Mr Stewart's decision to step down comes after the black Twitter user claimed he 'called him an angry ape' three weeks ago. Mr Shapland later branded Mr Stewart a 'disgrace'

Mr Stewart’s decision to step down comes after the black Twitter user claimed he ‘called him an angry ape’ three weeks ago. Mr Shapland later branded Mr Stewart a ‘disgrace’

In a statement, Mr Stewart said: ‘It was a misjudgement which I regret, but it’s been a privilege to bring the news to households throughout the UK for the past 40 years.’

Alastair Stewart: News veteran with 40 years in front of the camera 

Broadcasting giant Alastair Stewart’s decision to step down from presenting duties comes after a 40-year career in front of the camera.

Mr Stewart, 67, was born on June 22 1952 in Gosport, Hampshire, to parents who both served in the Royal Air Force.

He attended the state Madras College in Fife, Scotland, before moving to the independent Salesian College in Hampshire, then St Augustine’s Abbey School in Ramsgate, Kent.

Mr Stewart studied economics and politics at University of Bristol before going on to work for the National Union Of Students between 1974 and 1976.

His first steps into television came when he joined Southern Television in Southampton as a reporter and presenter.

Mr Stewart was one of the last to interview Lord Louis Mountbatten before he was murdered by the IRA in 1979.

He joined ITN in 1980 as industrial correspondent – and the broadcaster would become his professional home.

Soon after he was invited to join the roster of additional newsreaders and, from 1983 to 1986, he was a presenter and reporter with ITN’s Channel 4 News.

In 1989 he moved to ITV’s News At Ten where he became the lead presenter on the flagship show’s major news bulletins.

Until his departure from the broadcaster Mr Stewart’s portfolio of work saw him move between the lunchtime, evening and 10pm shows while presenting special programmes.

He married Sally Ann Jung in 1978 and has four children.

Mr Stewart famously kept his cool in August 2017 as a toddler took over his live news broadcast.

He was conducting a segment about milk allergies on the ITV Lunchtime News with a mother and her young son and daughter, when the little girl got up and ran around the desk.

She then climbed up on the desk in front of Mr Stewart, often creeping into his shot, for the remainder of the piece.

As the toddler got up to run around, Stewart said that she ‘will do whatever she chooses to do for the next couple of minutes’, before continuing with the interview.

Having stifled laughter while continuing the broadcast, the veteran newscaster joked at the end of the segment: ‘Mary Nightingale, I think, will have a more peaceful time at 6.30.

‘From all of us, a very good afternoon to you.’

A fan of rock music, Mr Stewart won Celebrity Mastermind in December 2009 with The Rolling Stones as his specialist subject.

He briefly appeared in the West End in a 2015 production An Evening With Lucian Freud by Laura-Jane Foley.

He played a hapless interviewer appearing on video alongside Cressida Bonas, Russell Grant and Maureen Lipman.

Mr Stewart presented ITV News’ coverage of the European Union referendum in 2016.

In June 2018, Mr Stewart used the same ‘angry ape’ quote in an exchange with another Twitter user who was not identifiably black.

Supporters said he appeared to have a habit of using the phrase to make a point about those he felt were claiming to be experts in a certain field.

An ITN insider said: ‘He would have thought he was being clever and it was merely an innocent put-down. He is certainly not a racist in any way.

‘Alastair is a hugely popular figure, well liked, kind and something of an institution.

‘It is sad if he has had to go because of this. He accepts the error of judgement, but many believe that, if this was the reason he is going, it was wrong, and he will be the first man ever fired for accurately quoting Shakespeare.’

Mr Stewart, who is married with four children, was the nation’s longest-serving male newsreader. He started on Southern Television in 1976 and joined ITN in 1980. An OBE came in 2006 for services to broadcasting.

Amid an outpouring of support last night, fellow ITV News presenter Mary Nightingale tweeted: ‘Very sad about the departure of Alastair Stewart. He was a good friend and mentor.’

News anchor Julie 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.’

Former ITV News boss Richard Frediani called him ‘a loyal friend, colleague, mentor, guide and much more to many, many journalists’, adding: ‘Simply the best on and off screen. A broadcasting legend.’

A source at ITN, which produces news programmes for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, said the newsroom was in shock, but that there was a ‘mixed view’, with some younger staff agreeing with the decision to remove him.

More senior staff shared their theory that it was an excuse to get rid of the veteran, who was on a six-figure salary. One insider said: ‘Officially he quit, but it was a fait accompli – a case of ‘resign, and do the honourable thing’.’

Michael Jermey, director of news and current affairs at ITV, said: ‘Alastair has been a long-standing, familiar figure to viewers of ITV News, both reporting and presenting with distinction. We wish him the very best for the future.’

ITN chief executive Anna Mallett added: ‘We would like to recognise Alastair’s contribution as one of the UK’s foremost journalists and TV presenters and to thank him for his commitment to delivering high-quality broadcast news over many years.’

Last night the door to Mr Stewart’s home in Hampshire was answered by a young man who said: ‘Yeah he is not going to be saying anything tonight.’

In his long career, Mr Stewart has fronted everything from election coverage to Police, Camera, Action! – a job he lost after crashing his Mercedes into a hedge while three times the drink-drive limit.

Support for Mr Stewart also came from broadcaster Danny Baker, who was sacked last year from BBC Radio 5 Live for likening Prince Harry’s son Archie to a chimp.

Baker retweeted a comment by comedian Rory Bremner who praised Mr Stewart as ‘a good friend’ and called him ‘generous, supportive and quick to correct unfairness or nonsense, authoritative, kind and one of life’s enthusiasts’.

Galaxy of stars come out in support

Good Morning Britain's Political Editor Ranvir Singh (left) and Alastair Stewart (right)

Good Morning Britain’s Political Editor Ranvir Singh (left) and Alastair Stewart (right)

TREVOR PHILLIPS- Ex-head of the equality and human rights commission

Alastair and I met as teenagers, campaigning against – among other things – the National Front. I think he was, perhaps, careless in his use of the quote, but it’s ludicrous to end a career this way. 

There is no way that Al would have used this image to belittle someone because of their race. People’s lives and intentions can’t be condensed into a single moment.

ANDREW NEIL– BBC presenter

Alastair Stewart – very smart, kindly, professional, impartial, knowledgeable, fun… Now the only person to be fired for quoting Shakespeare accurately. The only explanation can be the ITN suits wanted him out – and seized their chance.

RICHARD BACON- Former Radio 5 Live presenter 

So Alastair Stewart lost his job because he quoted Shakespeare in a Twitter row – a quote his bosses deemed offensive but a quote he’s used before. Is that it?

MARY NIGHTINGALE- ITN Newsreader

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.

RANVIR SINGH- Good Morning Britain Political editor 

He has spoken about other black talent in the newsroom and why companies don’t give them more work … and he wants them to have more work. In my gut, I would put my house on it that not for one second did he write that quote thinking that it was in any way a slur on someone’s skin colour. 

All I can say is that quote from Shakespeare in an Elizabethan era..I think was probably meant about primitive behaviour – it wasn’t about the colour. I call my son a monkey all the time [and say]: ‘Come on you little monkey! Get to bed’. I’m not being racist. I find it really unsettling.

ADAM BOULTON- Sky News  

A great TV journalist, professional model and friend. Alastair Stewart. So sad.

BEN SHEPHARD- Good Morning Britain  

I’ve been lucky enough to work with Alastair over the years as well and he’s an extraordinarily generous person.

ANNA BOTTING- Sky News  

Alastair, hope you can still read these messages. You’ve always been so supportive and encouraging…for which I am very grateful. I share the sadness at your departure and wish you all the very best.

RORY BREMNER- Comedian 

Don’t know what this is about but Alastair Stewart is a good friend, tweets knowledgeably & fairly about everything from news to horses, is generous, supportive and quick to correct unfairness or nonsense. Authoritative, kind & one of life’s great enthusiasts. A loss to ITN (& Twitter).

PROFESSOR SIR JOHN BATE- provost of Worcester college, Oxford 

There are plenty of racist insults in Shakespeare, most of them coming from the mouth of the sociopathic loser Iago, who destroys the noble general Othello because he fails to get promotion and hates the idea of a black man having a beautiful white wife.

But for Shakespeare, the phrase ‘angry ape’ has nothing to do with race. It comes from Measure For Measure, his #MeToo play, in which a powerful man seeks sexual favours from a young woman who wants to be a nun. 

She replies that men in authority always abuse their power: They ape the power of God. They are like an ape that looks in a mirror and goes ape. That’s what Shakespeare meant.

It was only in the wake of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, more than 300 years later, that race entered the equation.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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