Alastair Stewart | ITV host resigns after social media furore

ITV host resigns after social media furore

ITV News host Alastair Stewart has stepped down from his role after he was accused of writing a tweet that referred to a black man as an ‘ape’ while quoting Shakespeare – The Telegraph reported.

The 67-year-old broadcaster said in a statement that “it was a misjudgement which I regret” and Stewart’s Twitter account has since been deactivated.

ITN bosses – the company that produces daily news programmes for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – claimed that Stewart’s use of social media ‘breached’ editorial guidelines but didn’t elaborate on the specific reasons for his departure. ITN referred to it as "errors of judgement in Alastair's use of social media".

Yet, a senior ITN journalist told The Telegraph that “he is not a racist” and said that his choice of words was “no more than ill-judged”.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time that an employee in the public eye has received criticism over inappropriate tweets – and lost their job as a result.

Last year, ITV confirmed that the Emmerdale actress, Shila Iqbal, was sacked from her role after a thread of historic racially offensive and homophobic tweets surfaced.

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While she apologised for the “inappropriate language” used in her tweets from 2013, Iqbal argued that she shouldn’t have been permanently let go from her dream role.

Both of these cases highlight key HR issues surrounding social media policies.

Employers check social media

Staff often forget that companies use social media to screen prospective candidates. 2018 research from CareerBuilder found that 70% of employers use it during the hiring process while 43% of firms use social media to check-up on their existing employees.

So, employees should be constantly thinking about whether the content they post on social media is appropriate.

Work social media policies

To stop professional reputations from being damaged, most employers have social media policies in place to determine what is and isn't accepted.

However, there is a grey area when it comes to offensive employee communications that don’t relate to the business but are still posted online.  

Therefore, employers are advised to outline any social media remarks that constitute gross misconduct in a watertight policy.

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