Political columnist apologises after mocking disabled broadcaster Andrew Marr

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

File photo of Quentin Letts, 2009.
Image: Steve Punter.

Quentin Letts, a UK political columnist and sketch writer, publicly apologized yesterday after he mocked disabled broadcaster Andrew Marr. Letts was reviewing former BBC business editor Robert Peston's new ITV television show for the Daily Mail on Sunday when he made the comments. In his column he said Marr, who suffered a stroke in 2013, was like "Captain Hop-Along, growling away on BBC One, throwing his arm about like a tipsy conductor".

Letts posted an apology on his Twitter page after a critical article by Roy Greenslade, which appeared in The Guardian. Greenslade said "I don't want to come off all namby-pamby. I understand that no-one should be beyond criticism and that Letts was exercising his right to press freedom. But really Quentin, that was a graceless remark."

The apology tweet read, "I fear my sketch reference to the admirable Marr today was horrid. Apologies to all concerned and upset." Letts also replied directly to Greenslade, who updated his article. Letts said "Perhaps I should have been more cautious but I hope that Andrew will forgive it. He has been equally teasing about himself in my company. I admire him." He also added he believes Marr's stroke had "made him more watchable than he was beforehand."

Criticism also came from Marr's wife and The Stroke Association. Eleven complaints were filed in relation to the comments to the Independent Press Standards Organisation according to a BBC statement.

Andrew Marr drew in 1.6 million viewers on Sunday, significantly more than Peston's debut with 166,000 viewers tuning in, according to The Guardian. Peston left the BBC to become ITV's political editor in 2015.


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