Alastair Stewart supporters have began an online petition to the get the newsreader reinstated by ITV.
Newsreader Alastair, 67, who joined the channel in 1980 and was the longest serving male newsreader, was accused of calling a black Twitter user an “ape” just weeks before announcing his shock resignation last night.
Following him stepping down from ITN, a petition has been launched on Change.org ordering for the journalist to be given back his job and it has already got 1,351 signatures – moments after it was set live.
A message posted alongside the petition declared: “Alastair Stewart has been ridiculously forced to quit his role on ITV after 40 years due to Martin Shapland accused him of calling him ‘an angry ape’ after quoting Shakespeare.
“Despite no direct conversation on twitter between the two and with Martin using racism as the offense.
“The quote is reference to how a person can lose their sight with anger and refuse to listen to reason. It’s not racist either, Martin needs to take account the evolution of apes to humans of all races.
“Martin needs to publicly apologise and Alastair needs to have his job reinstated!”
It comes after the reporter announced that he would be stepping down from ITV News following “errors of judgement” on social media.
In a statement, veteran boradcaster Stewart said: “It was a misjudgement which I regret, but it’s been a privilege to bring the news to households throughout the UK for the past 40 years.”
Weeks prior to his announcement, Stewart and Twitter user Martin Shapland were involved in a heated debate on social media over the financial relationship between the tax payer and the Crown earlier this month.
The newsreader responded at one point with a quote from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.
Stewart wrote: “But man, proud man, Dress’d in a little brief authority Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d – His glassy essence—like an angry ape Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven.
“As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens, Would all themselves laugh mortal.”
Shapland retweeted the comment and branded Stewart a “disgrace”, writing: “Just an ITV newsreader referring to me as an ape with the cover of Shakespeare. Measure for measure, Alistair is a disgrace.”
ITN have not confirmed that the tweets are linked to Stewart stepping down from ITV News.
An ITN spokesperson told the Mirror: “After many years working across a variety of news programmes, Alastair Stewart is stepping down from his presenting duties.
“The decision, which is supported by both ITV and ITN, follows errors of judgement in Alastair’s use of social media which breached ITN’s editorial guidelines.
“Alastair has had a long career as a staff reporter and presenter on ITV News programmes. In recent times he has been a part time freelance presenter mainly on the lunchtime news and weekend programmes.”
Today, his Twitter profile appeared to have been deleted and he said in a statement: “It was a misjudgement which I regret, but it’s been a privilege to bring the news to households throughout the UK for the past 40 years.”
ITN’s chief executive Anna Mallett said: “We would like to recognise Alastair’s contribution as one of the UK’s foremost journalists and TV presenters and to thank him for his commitment to delivering high-quality broadcast news over many years.”
Michael Jermey, director of news and current affairs at ITV, added: “Alastair has been a long-standing, familiar figure to viewers of ITV News, both reporting and presenting with distinction. We wish him the very best for the future.”
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