Newstalk staff demand the removal of George Hook

Radio station’s employees sign letter denouncing broadcaster after rape comments

Broadcaster George Hook says he is "truly sorry" for comments he made about rape on his radio show, "High Noon." Audio: Newstalk

 

A number of staff at Newstalk have signed a letter calling on management at the station to remove broadcaster George Hook from its airwaves over his controversial remarks about a rape trial in the UK.

The letter was circulated among staff at the station – and signed by a large number of them – in response to Hook’s comments on his programme High Noon last Friday in relation to the case of a 19-year-old woman who alleges she was raped by a former member of the British swim team.

However, at the request of management the letter was not formally submitted to the company.

The letter said staff wished to express their “utter repudiation of the views” expressed by Hook on Friday’s programme.

“We also wish to express our profound disappointment with management at Communicorp [Newstalk’s parent company] at their failure to deal with this issue swiftly and decisively,” it said.

“The longer George Hook remains on air, the more reputational damage this station will suffer, damage that will unfairly reflect on the hardworking and professional staff at Newstalk.

“Misogyny should never be normalised, and we call upon management at Communicorp to defend the reputation of the station and the reputation of the staff at Newstalk by removing Mr Hook.”

Mounting anger

As many as 20 staff out of the 60 working in production and presenting at the station are understood to have signed the letter, following what a signatory described as mounting anger over the past few days.

“On Monday we presumed he [George Hook] wouldn’t be in the office,” a staff member said.

“We were horrified to see him there as normal. I cannot describe to you how many emails and texts we’re getting from people deserting the station.”

A spokesman for the station said management had not received the letter from staff. He said that a “process” into Hook’s remarks had been ongoing since Friday and was expected to conclude shortly.

At a briefing about Hook on Tuesday, Communicorp chief executive Adrian Searle told staff of the “process” and urged them to raise directly with management any concerns and not to discuss them publicly as that could affect the review.

Solicitors

The spokesman for the station would not elaborate on whether the “process” Hook was facing was disciplinary in nature. It is understood solicitors are involved in the review.

The atmosphere within the station was described by a source as “horrific”.

Referring to the UK case on his show on Friday, Hook questioned why the woman had gone back to the hotel room of a man she had just met, asking: “Is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger?”

Hook apologised for his remarks on Monday, calling them “totally inappropriate and unacceptable” and acknowledging that they had caused “widespread hurt and offence”.

Ireland’s largest hotel group, Dalata, cancelled its sponsorship of Hook’s programme in protest at his remarks.