The man whose Twitter row with Alastair Stewart is believed to be behind the ITN veteran’s decision to step down from presenting duties has said a private apology “would have been more than enough”.
Martin Shapland, a policy manager at the Institution of Civil Engineers, removed all of his Twitter posts today and claimed he had received a torrent of abuse over his apparent role in Stewart’s departure.
Staff at ITV News were told yesterday that Stewart, 67, was stepping down over “errors of judgement” in his “use of social media”.
Stewart (pictured), believed to be the UK’s longest-serving TV newsreader, said: “It was a misjudgement that I regret, but it’s been a privilege to bring the news to households throughout the UK for the past 40 years.”
ITN, which produces ITV News, has not revealed what Stewart did wrong but a recent Twitter exchange between him and Shapland has resurfaced online, prompting speculation that it is behind his exit.
In one tweet to Shapland, who is black, Stewart quoted a passage from Shakespeare’s Measure to Measure that included the line “his glassy essence – like an angry ape”, which he flagged to ITV News.
Shapland has insisted there were a string of offending posts from Stewart that followed this one, but the broadcaster has deleted his Twitter account and with it all of his previous tweets.
Shapland said in a statement: “In so far as Mr Stewart caused hurt and upset, intentionally or otherwise, in an exchange earlier this month, there is a wider context. There was not a single post as has been widely reported, but several posts written by Mr Stewart, which have all now been deleted.
“I understand that Mr Stewart has acknowledged the words he used were misjudged and has expressed regret at what happened. I thank him for that.”
Shapland said a private apology from Stewart and a “commitment to be more careful about language” would have been “more than sufficient”.
“It is regrettable that he has decided to stand down and I take no pleasure in that,” he went on. “He has evidently gone through an ITN and ITV process and I respect his choice.”
More than 8,000 people have signed a petition to reinstate Stewart to ITV News.
Thank you to those who have been in touch in the last few days about Alastair Stewart. I apologise for not getting back to media enquiries more quickly in particular.
I am not planning to make on or off the record comments beyond the statement below and a few clarifying tweets pic.twitter.com/lK1Q18MoyQ
— Martin Shapland (@MShapland) January 30, 2020
Picture: ITV News