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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Kenny defends 'decent man' Hook over controversial rape comments

Pat Kenny described George Hook as a ‘decent man’
Pat Kenny described George Hook as a ‘decent man’
George Hook

Pat Kenny has defended his Newstalk colleague George Hook, describing him as "a decent man" who is "genuinely contrite".

Mr Kenny spoke as Newstalk launched a full investigation into comments made by Mr Hook about rape during his High Noon radio show.

When contacted, a spokesperson for Newstalk said "a process is undergoing and has been in place since last Friday. It is expected to conclude shortly".

Mr Kenny said: "I listened to his apology and he meant it, he is genuinely contrite. He is devastated by this. He realises what he said didn't come out right and accepts that some people were hurt.

"George has been with the station from the very beginning. He has always been a controversialist, that's why people listen to him.

Musing

"The comments are not reflective of him. He is a decent man with children and was musing over a topic.

"He has entertained people for 13 years and it would be sad that people would take his mis-speaking on the radio as the real representation of George the man," he added.

Mr Kenny also stressed that he was "not in any way trying to espouse the point of view that [Hook] articulated".

Yesterday, Adrian Serle, the chief executive of Newstalk's parent company, Communicorp, addressed staff and discussed the incident.

A source within the station said: "Staff were told that the station would not be railroaded into a decision by social media or media commentary. The review will not be rushed but it is expected fairly soon."

Depending on the results of the review, the future of the show in its current format and its presenter will be centre stage.

Mr Hook's comments last week were made while he discussed the case of a woman (19), who alleges she was raped by a former member of the British swim team.

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

A total of nine complaints have been made to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland regarding Mr Hook's comments, including one from the Women's Council of Ireland.

On Monday, the Dalata Hotel Group withdrew its sponsorship from Newstalk as it could not "support any radio station that allows inappropriate and hurtful comments to be made".

The sponsorship for High Noon is believed to be worth about up to €250,000.

Earlier this week, Mr Hook issued an unreserved apology on air.

"I made comments about rape on the programme that were totally inappropriate and unacceptable and I should never have made them," he said.

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