Keys blames ‘dark forces’ as he quits Sky Sports
Sky football anchor follows Andy Gray out of the door - and gets a parting shot from Karren Brady
Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys has quit his job over the sexism row that led to the dismissal of his co-host Andy Gray and apologised for his actions, but only after giving a bizarre interview to radio station TalkSport, in which he claimed "dark forces" were at work behind the scenes.
Keys said that a media "firestorm" blew up after footage of him and Gray talking off-air about female linesman Sian Massey was leaked to the press. Other clips of separate incidents of sexism involving the two presenters were subsequently made public, and led to the sacking of Gray.
Keys admitted in the interview that what he had done was "wrong", but added, somewhat cryptically: "With success comes envy. The clips you have seen are fairly selective. They have targeted two individuals."
He was also adamant that he phoned Massey to apologise on behalf of himself and Gray on Sunday, and not on Monday as was reported. He claimed that she had accepted his apology and they had engaged in "banter".
Keys then said that West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, about whom he had also made a sexist comment, had not returned his calls.
That cut no ice with Brady and she responded in typically forthright fashion. "Perhaps Richard thought I was too busy making the tea and washing up to take his call," she said. "But a cursory glance at the weekend's newspapers or television would have made him well aware that I was heavily occupied with the West Ham and Newham Council Olympic Stadium bid."
Keys also took issue with footballer Rio Ferdinand’s assertion that Keys’s and Gray’s views were "prehistoric" by asking, "Are you telling me that it doesn't take place in the Manchester United dressing room? Because my information is that it does."
But after deciding to fall on his sword on Wednesday evening, Keys issued a statement that said: "I am deeply sorry for my remarks and the offence they have caused." He explained: "Going forward without Andy would have been almost impossible."
Opinion is still divided over the seriousness of the pair's crimes, and there could be some mileage left in the story. According to a report in the Guardian, Sky owner Rupert Murdoch passed judgment on the issue in an editorial meeting at the Times and declared: "This country has lost its sense of humour". The media tycoon apparently said Gray's comments about Massey were similar to "what women say about other women".
That, of course, did not save Gray from the sack, and the Daily Mail carries a story featuring an interview with a senior source at Sky Sports who claims that the pair were guilty of "relentless bullying" of female staff, and that their behaviour was "infamous".
Whoever Sky Sports bring in to replace the pair will also come under close scrutiny. Countdown presenter Jeff Stelling, whose 'banter' with female assistant Rachel Riley has been the subject of several tabloid tales in the past, is favourite to take over from Keys. ·
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