Wednesday 23 May 2018

Hook will be back on air with new weekend show despite rape furore

George Hook will not be sacked
George Hook will not be sacked

George Hook will keep his job with Newstalk, despite the furore over his controversial comments about rape.

The radio station has confirmed the 76-year-old has been given a new weekend slot, which will start in three months, after he "stepped down" from his High Noon show.

However, Newstalk has declined to say if the move from a weekday prime-time slot to a weekend morning show in December will affect his salary.

The station was also keeping tight-lipped on whether he will be paid for the three months he will be off air and if any disciplinary action has been taken against him.

An "internal process" was conducted in the wake of the scandal, but the results have not been made public.

"It's a massive step down for him," a source told the Herald. "There's a lot of negotiations still going on internally.

"They have yet to decide who's going to replace him on the lunchtime slot and also which shows to change around for his new show."

Newstalk said it had "concluded the process" of reviewing the circumstances that led to Hook's comments.

"He will return to the station in December when he will take on a new weekend show," it added in a statement.

"Newstalk will shortly be announcing a replacement for the lunchtime show. Newstalk will not be making any further comment on this issue."

Staff at the station have been advised not to talk to the media about the controversy as the firm tries to move on.

There has been a mixed reaction to the news Hook will remain as a broadcaster with the station, with some listeners branding it "pathetic".

"I'm horrified and disgusted," said singer Mary Coughlan, who walked out of an interview with Newstalk host Ivan Yates in protest at Hook's comments. "All of my faith in Newstalk has really gone out of the window.

"They seemed to be coming to their senses last week and heeding what the public wanted."


Ms Coughlan said she will never go on a Newstalk show again, despite her affinity with many of the other hosts at the station.

"There is no place for people like George Hook on the airwaves," she added.

The musician, who was a victim of abuse as a child, said it was "heinous" to suggest that any victim of rape or sexual assault was culpable in any way for the crimes committed against them.

"I, too, always felt I was to blame, even though I was much younger than seven," she said. "Suggesting that anyone is partly responsible is heinous. He should be taken off the air and kept off the air."

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) has now lodged a formal complaint with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in relation to Hook's comments.

Its executive director Cliona Sadlier questioned whether he would come back as the "same old George" when he returns to the airwaves in December.

Hook's comments were made on High Noon on Friday, September 8, in relation to a woman who alleges she was raped by a former member of the British swimming team.

"Is there no blame to the person who puts themselves in danger?" he added at the time.

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