Alastair Stewart quits over Twitter ‘errors of judgement’
Broadcaster speaks of ‘regret’ after using ‘angry ape’ Shakespeare quote in online row
ITV News presenter Alastair Stewart is stepping down from his role following what the programme called “errors of judgement” in his use of social media.
During a row with Martin Shapland, a black former Liberal Democrat council candidate, the 67-year-old broadcaster posted a Shakespearean verse from Measure for Measure, which included reference to an “angry ape”.
In response to the tweet, Shapland described the veteran newsreader as a “disgrace” and accused him of using Shakespeare as cover to make a racial insult.
In a statement, the journalist said that he made a “misjudgment which I regret”, adding that it had been a “privilege” to work at ITV.
The Daily Mail reports that an ITN insider has defended Stewart. The source 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.
“It is sad if he has had to go because of this. He will be the first man ever fired for accurately quoting Shakespeare.”
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Meanwhile, Duncan Golestani, a presenter on both BBC and ITV, described Stewart as “one of the kindest men in broadcasting”, while BBC Radio 3 presenter Katie Derham said Stewart was “a very dear friend and colleague” and added: “He will be missed.”
ITV presenter Julie Etchingham wrote on Twitter that she was “so sad to learn this - we have worked on many big stories together & Al is a trusted friend and guide to many of us”.
Stewart was the longest-serving male newsreader after joining Southern Television in 1976 and then ITN in 1980. He began fronting News at Ten nine years later.
He was named presenter of the year by the Royal Television Society in 2005, and was awarded an OBE the following year.
Stewart’s Twitter account has now been deactivated.