Society of Editors chief resigns after criticism for defending UK press against racism claims

The Society of Editors chief has tonight resigned after coming under fire for defending the UK press from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s racism claims.

Ian Murray, the industry body’s executive director, faced a backlash after releasing a statement saying the couple’s accusations, made in their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, were ‘not acceptable’.

His statement also said the Duke and Duchess’ claims were made ‘without supporting evidence’ and that the UK media ‘has a proud record of calling out racism’.

But the remarks drew criticism from some within the industry, including editors of publications such as the HuffPost and the Guardian, who both said the statement did not reflect their opinion. 

ITV’s news anchor Charlene White today pulled out of presenting the industry body’s annual awards.

And a number of journalists and newspapers had also announced they would reject their nominations for the prestigious honours.

Now, less than 24 hours after Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan resigned following a Twitter row about his comments on the explosive interview, Mr Murray has announced he is stepping down.

In a statement he said: ‘Since the statement was issued the SoE has been heavily criticised. 

Ian Murray, the industry body's executive director, faced a backlash from sections of the media after releasing a statement saying the couple's accusations, made in a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, were 'not acceptable'

Ian Murray, the industry body's executive director, faced a backlash from sections of the media after releasing a statement saying the couple's accusations, made in a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, were 'not acceptable'

Ian Murray, the industry body’s executive director, faced a backlash from sections of the media after releasing a statement saying the couple’s accusations, made in a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, were ‘not acceptable’

But the remarks about Harry and Meghan's (pictured) claims drew criticism from some within the industry, including editors of publications such as the Huffington Post and the Guardian, who both said the statement did not reflect their opinion

But the remarks about Harry and Meghan's (pictured) claims drew criticism from some within the industry, including editors of publications such as the Huffington Post and the Guardian, who both said the statement did not reflect their opinion

But the remarks about Harry and Meghan’s (pictured) claims drew criticism from some within the industry, including editors of publications such as the Huffington Post and the Guardian, who both said the statement did not reflect their opinion

‘While I do not agree that the Society’s statement was in any way intended to defend racism, I accept it could have been much clearer in its condemnation of bigotry and has clearly caused upset. 

‘As executive director I lead the Society and as such must take the blame and so I have decided it is best for the board and membership that I step aside so that the organisation can start to rebuild its reputation.’

It comes as yesterday editors took to Twitter to criticise the original comment, including the Guardian’s Katharine Viner and the I’s Oly Duff.

Mr Duff described it ‘ludicrous’ for the SoE to issue a ‘blanket defence of all media coverage’.

Meanwhile, a an open letter signed by 167 journalists of colour was published, describing the SoE’s response as ‘laughable’. 

The SoE, which has members from nearly 400 national and regional outlets, today appeared to pull back from the earlier comments, amid claims of a split in the executive board. 

The new statement ‘said the previous comments ‘did not reflect what we all know: that there is a lot of work to be done in the media to improve diversity and inclusion’. 

The latest comment was made by the SoE board, rather than Mr Murray – as the previous comment had been.

Meanwhile, a number of publications and journalists have today decided to pull their nominations from the upcoming National Press Awards.

These include the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Yorkshire Post.   

Earlier, the award’s host Ms White had pulled out, citing the comments by Mr Murray.

She said: ‘Perhaps it’s best for you to look elsewhere for a host for your awards this year.

‘Perhaps someone whose views align with yours: that the UK press is the one institution in the entire country who has a perfect record on race.’   

It comes after the Duchess of Sussex accused the press of ‘attacking and inciting so much racism’ in its coverage of her during her explosive CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey. 

Link hienalouca.com

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