Mary Nightingale was close to tears on the ITV news yesterday as she told viewers that her “good friend and mentor” Alastair Stewart was stepping down.
The newsreader was hosting the tea time installment of the show when she touched on the subject of Stewart’s exit over claims he called a black man an “angry ape” on Twitter.
It was an hour after Stewart, 67, confirmed he was stepping down and Nightingale appeared close to tears as she spoke about his departure.
Her voice cracked as she said: “ITV newsreader Alastair Stewart is stepping down from presenting duties after he made errors of judgement on social media.
“Alastair was the longest-serving newsreader on British television.
“He left after breaching ITN editorial guidelines. He’s said he regrets the misjudgement and that it’d been a privilege to bring the news to households across the UK for more than 40 years.”
Before going on air, Nightingale tweeted: “Very sad about the departure of #AlastairStewart.
“He was a good friend and mentor to me when I started at Carlton TV, and we worked together for more than 27 years. I will miss him”.
At the time his departure, reasons for Stewart’s exit were not given – it was put down to “errors of judgement on social media”.
It was later revealed that earlier this month, Stewart had a Twitter spat with user Martin Shapland over the financial relationship between the tax payer and the Crown.
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, who is black, 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.”
Since Stewart’s exit, the news stalwart has been backed by news anchor Julie Etchingham, who tweeted: “So sad to learn this – we have worked on many big stories together & Al is a trusted friend and guide to many of us.”
BBC presenter Andrew Neil also spoke out in his defence, declaring: “Alastair Stewart – now the only person to be fired for quoting Shakespeare accurately.
“The only explanation can be the ITN suits wanted him out – and seized their chance.”
During Good Morning Britain today, Ranvir Singh said: “He is a gentleman and he has done nothing but encourage me, it saddens me.
“I need to speak to him and find out what he meant. From what I understand is the misjudgement that might be getting drawn into a spat.
“I would put my house on it that not for one second did he write it in a slur.”
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