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‘Simple mistake’ led to Kilroy-Silk row

Press Association, UK
Jan. 10, 2004 • Sunday January 11, 2004

BBC presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk claimed the furore over his article about Arabs resulted from a simple secretarial error.

The former Labour MP, 61, said his column in last week’s Sunday Express was reprinted by mistake after his secretary sent the wrong e-mail attachment.

Writing for the column in this weekend’s newspaper, Kilroy-Silk insisted his remarks were taken out of context and had not caused offence when they were first published in April last year.

He writes: “Last week I wrote my column as usual – about John Reid’s proposal to charge foreigners for using the NHS as it happens. It did not appear.

“Instead the article I had written the previous April was reprinted. This was a mistake. My secretary, when e-mailing the Sunday Express, apparently clicked on the wrong e-mail attachment and despatched the old one.

“The error was not picked up and the Sunday Express assumed the article had been re-written.

“Obviously I did not write the new headline. I clearly do not believe that all Arabs are suicide bombers etc. That would be stupid.

“As we all know most Arabs are educated, civilised and urbane. The article was always intended to be a criticism of certain Arab regimes – never of Arab people in general. There is a clear difference.”

Kilroy-Silk, whose talk show has been suspended by the BBC, said he regretted the offence caused by his article, in which Arabs are described as “suicide bombers, limb-amputators, women repressors”.

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