Vanessa Feltz was left "extremely upset" by a column printed in The Sunday Times over the weekend, which suggested that she and Claudia Winkleman are the best-paid BBC female presenters because they are Jewish. Speaking on her BBC Breakfast show, the radio host said: "I would have thought after all these years I'd be immune or used to it, but that's not at all how I felt. I felt extremely upset. The apologies are all very well but how did it end up in the paper in the first place?"
The column, written by Kevin Myers and printed in the Irish edition of the title, focused on the gender pay gap row embroiling the BBC. Headlined 'Sorry, ladies – equal pay has to be earned,' the column commented that two of the corporation's best-paid female employees – Vanessa and Claudia – are Jewish.
"I felt extremely upset," said Vanessa Feltz
Mr Myers wrote: "Good for them. Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity." The piece was also published online, but taken down after it sparked an immediate backlash from readers labelling it "racist" and "anti-Semitic".
Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens was forced to apologise for running the piece, and rang Vanessa to personally apologise to her. During her radio show, Vanessa said the pair had spoken over the phone and that Mr Ivens apologised, saying he was "horrified". She said she told the editor that she could not understand how the article had been published when it had to go through "layers of command".
The column commented that Claudia and Vanessa earn more because they're Jewish
Following the backlash, Mr Ivens released a statement saying: "The comments in a column by Kevin Myers in today's Irish edition of The Sunday Times were unacceptable and should not have been published. It has been taken down and we sincerely apologise both for the remarks and the error of judgement that led to publication." The newspaper also confirmed that Mr Myers would never write for the title again.