ALASTAIR Stewart’s racism accuser says he should NOT have been sacked and that an apology “would’ve been enough”.
The veteran newsreader was forced out of ITV yesterday after 40 years when a black Twitter user accused him of calling him an “ape”.
Stewart, 67, had used the word as he quoted from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure in a Twitter spat with Martin Shapland.
Martin today accused him of sending more posts that caused “hurt and upset” – which he says have now been deleted.
He added: “No one is perfect. We are all human and we all need to learn from our experiences and mistakes and try to be better people in the wake of them.”
“An apology and commitment to be more careful about language was all that I would have asked.
“It is regrettable that he has decided to stand down and I take no pleasure in that.”
‘HUNG OUT TO DRY’
But colleagues and rival journalists have leapt to his defence since he announced he would be quitting after “errors of judgement” in his use of social media.
Some have accused ITN of “hanging him out to dry” after the “public shaming” – as they branded his departure a “total disgrace”.
ITN newsreader Mary Nightingale yesterday was overwhelmed with emotion as she announced her “friend and mentor” of 27 years would be stepping down.
And a petition calling for him to be reinstated has received more than 1,200 signatures.
And the Good Morning Britain presenter, who has previously revealed she had suffered racist abuse, said she was “upset” about the whole situation.
Stewart uses the Shakespeare quote during a Twitter debateSpeaking on GMB, she added: “All I can say is that I would never use the word racist and his name in the same sentence.
“I have sat with him for hours and hours, days and days, years, and he has only ever been gracious and encouraging to me, we’ve had talks about how he and his wife are proud of what I’ve achieved.
“Alastair’s talked about other black talents in the newsroom and wider, and why companies don’t give them more work, and how he sees black talent in other places and he wants them to have more work, and he would know in his position that might mean he might get less work but he still was saying, ‘listen’.”
Getting visibly upset, Ranvir told how she had spoken to Britain’s longest serving newsreader Stewart last night and said he doing was “OK”.
The presenter, who revealed last month she had suffered “racially charged” comments in the ITV building, also called him a “gentleman” and repeated how encouraging he had been with her own career.
Ranvir continued: “I find it really unsettling to talk about this, he’s my friend Alastair is. I feel sorry for him and I wish this hadn’t happened, and I don’t know who this guy is on Twitter and what his issue is with that and I feel sorry for Alastair.
“In my gut I would absolutely tell you, I’d put my house on it, not for one second did he write that quote thinking in anyway it was slur on someone’s skin colour.”
How Alastair Stewart became Britain’s longest serving newsreader
Stewart has enjoyed a glittering career as one of TV’s most respected news presenters, joining Southern Television in 1976 then ITN in 1980.
He was one of the last journalists to interview Lord Mountbatten before he was assassinated by the IRA in 1979.
The veteran broadcaster was the ITN’s News at Ten anchor from 1989, leading the channel’s coverage of the fall the of the Berlin Wall.
Mr Stewart moved to work in the US as ITN’s Washington correspondent, before heading to Saudi Arabia for two months to cover the Gulf War in 1990.
He was the first British television journalist to broadcast live from Kuwait City.
In 2003, he was axed as presenter of ITV’s Police Camera Action after being caught drink driving.
In 2005, he won presenter of the year from the Royal Television Society and in 2006 he was awarded an OBE for services to broadcasting and charity.
He was also co-anchor in ITV’s coverage of the 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2005 general elections.
In 2010, he hosted the first Prime Minister candidates debate between Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Gordon Brown and presented ITV News’s EU referendum coverage in June, 2016.
The son of RAF recruits, Mr Stewart was educated at state school in Fife, Scotland and then at the independent Salesian College in Farnborough, Hampshire and St. Augustine’s Abbey School in Ramsgate, Kent.
He married Sally Ann Jung in 1978 and has four children.
Stewart yesterday left his job three weeks after the exchange with Martin on Twitter.
During an online debate about the financial relationship between the Crown and the taxpayer, the presenter replied with the obscure quote.
It said: “But man, proud man, Dress’d in a little brief authority Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d – His glassy essence—like an angry ape Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
“As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens, Would all themselves laugh mortal.”
Stewart has used the same Shakespeare quote in at least one other exchange with a Twitter user who wasn’t identifiably black.
Martin, a policy manager at the Institution of Civil Engineers, shared the tweet, calling the presenter a “disgrace” for using the quote, which he claimed used a racial slur against him.
He later tweeted: “Just an ITV newsreader referring to me as an ape with the cover of Shakespeare.
“Measure for measure, Alistair is a disgrace.”
ITV have not officially released the reason but several ITV News sources told The Sun Online the departure was linked to the ape tweet.
In a statement, the award-winning presenter said: “It was a misjudgement which I regret, but it’s been a privilege to bring the news to households throughout the UK for the past 40 years.”
Colleagues and fellow news presenters have continued to back Stewart over the race row – including Andrew Neil, Mary Nightingale, Julie Etchingham and Adam Boulton.
A friend at Stewart’s £1.7million farmhouse in Bramdean, Hants, said the presenter would not be commenting today.