The ex director of Iceland who was sacked over comments he made about Wales and the Welsh language has defended himself by claiming it was just meant to be funny.
Keith Hann, who was director of corporate affairs at the Flintshire-headquartered supermarket firm, has written an article that says “the ‘cancel culture’ that is sadly becoming the norm in the UK is plain wrong”.
Mr Hann says it had never occurred to him that he should include the standard words “All views entirely my own” in his Twitter biography, Business Live reports.
“It seemed a waste of precious characters when this was surely bleeding obvious, not least because my employer was by no means exempt from being treated as the butt of my attempted humour,” he wrote in the article on Voice of the North.
“With hindsight, this proved a very expensive mistake.”
In the article Mr Hann he recognises that his humour is not to everyone’s taste.
“I am an elderly (66), white, middle class, Oxbridge-educated, libertarian Geordie who grew up with the comedy of Hancock, Round The Horne, I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again, Monty Python, Morecambe & Wise, and – yes – Benny Hill and Bernard Manning,” he wrote.
“There are plenty of things I still find funny that would never make it onto terrestrial TV at all these days, even with a long prior apology and trigger warning.”
The furore over Mr Hann’s tweets, and later blog posts, followed a rewteet of the TalkRadio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer.
Ms Hartley-Brewer had expressed a low opinion of the neighbours who had reported TV personality Amanda Holden to the police for paying a visit to her distressed elderly parents in Cornwall. A belief Mr Hann shared.
“I ‘liked’ this – and then, fatefully, I retweeted it, noting that such attitudes to visitors were by no means confined to Cornwall and should be borne in mind when considering summer holiday bookings,” he wrote.
“I referred to the ‘UK’s Celtic fringe’ because, as a border dweller, I have been particularly conscious of the ‘English go home’ hostility that has become pervasive during the pandemic – though, to be fair, one could probably say the same of most coastal and rural areas in England, too.
“Covid has bred a most unattractive insularity, combined with a willingness to report trivial perceived breaches of the almost wartime travel and recreation guidelines to the authorities.
“My tweet produced an almost immediate kickback demanding to know whether this represented Iceland Foods’ view of their Scottish and Welsh customers.
“I replied that of course it didn’t – but then, as it was my son’s ninth birthday as well as Valentine’s Day, I decided that I would be much better employed celebrating than in spending my time arguing on Twitter, so I deleted the tweets (something I had never done before) and moved on.”
Mr Hann says that on the Monday morning he received ” a dossier” from the website Nation.Cymru.
Mr Hann says it cited some recent tweets making disobliging references to his journey to Deeside Industrial Park as well as some old columns he had written for the Newcastle Journal in 2014.
“I wrote this weekly column for the best part of a decade, dispensing knockabout fun in the style of a very poor man’s Rod Liddle, and making jokes at the expense of a pretty comprehensive range of people and places – though chiefly to the detriment of myself,” he wrote.
“I had archived the columns in a personal blog that ended in 2015 and which I had not looked at for almost as long. Nor had anyone else, to judge by the visitor tracker, but interest now shot up as people trawled through this and another personal blog, mainly about my disastrous love life, looking for things that they could claim to be offended by.”
Comments on the blogs included describing the Welsh language as “gibberish” and “like someone with bad catarrh clearing his throat”.
Mr Hann by the Wednesday Iceland felt that it could no longer continue its “long association” with him.
In his article Mr Hann says: “For the record, I have spent many enjoyable holidays in Wales, in locations ranging from the heart of Snowdonia to Abersoch, Gower, Tremadog and Ynyshir.
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“One of the highlights of my life was a day spent learning to drive a steam locomotive on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway.
“Ironically, the green sweatshirt that I am wearing in the Facebook profile picture that was splashed across the national press last week is blazoned with the arms of another Welsh railway it was bought to support, the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland.”
Last week a spokesperson for Iceland said: “Iceland has taken action in light of recent comments made by its Director of Corporate Affairs, resulting in the dismissal of Mr Hann with immediate effect.
“We would like to reiterate that these comments in no way reflect the values or philosophy of our business.
“We are a proud Welsh company, with a long history of investment in communities across Wales, and apologise for any upset or offence caused.”
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