Robert Kilroy-Silk has resigned from his talk show on the BBC after it suspended him for writing a controversial column:
- Mr Kilroy-Silk had hosted the BBC One morning chat show for 17 years.
The BBC suspended the programme after the presenter’s contentious column in the newspaper on 4 January.
The Muslim Council of Britain said it hoped the episode showed anti-Arab racism was not acceptable.
Secretary-General Iqbal Sacranie said Mr Kilroy-Silk had tried to hide behind the “noble principle of freedom of speech”.
Mr Sacranie said: “Kilroy-Silk has for a number of years now been making extremely derogatory and xenophobic remarks about Arabs and Muslims.”
However, Mr Kilroy-Silk has insisted his article was meant to attack Arab “regimes” rather than smear all Arabs.
….Critics had accused the BBC of gagging Mr Kilroy-Silk by suspending his show.
On Saturday an editorial in the Daily Express accused the BBC of being “utterly out of touch with public opinion”.
“Such high handed and potty political correctness is a shabby way to treat a popular hero,” said the newspaper.
But Director of BBC Television Jana Bennett insisted the corporation’s decision had not been about freedom of speech.
She said: “Presenters of this kind of programme have a responsibility to uphold the BBC’s impartiality.”
The corporation wanted to continue to work with him in other on-screen roles, and he remained “a substantial force in the media industry”.
BBC Media Correspondent Torin Douglas said it appeared the two sides had reached a compromise which would allow Mr Kilroy-Silk’s company to continue to make a similar programme albeit with a different presenter. [BBC]
In other words, if he agreed to quit, the BBC would continue to work with his production company.
I do not believe Kilroy-Silk should have been suspended nor forced to resign, although his position would have been much easier to defend if his commentary hadn’t been rife with error and exaggeration. But as I said when the story broke: Kilroy-Silk’s basic premise that the political structure of the Arab-Islamic world is a corrupt, autocratic, loathsome mess is dead right. We can only hope that the War on Terror does it severe damage.