Toby Young quits role on universities watchdog after storm over offensive tweets

Posted On: 
9th January 2018

Toby Young has quit his role on a universities watchdog following a huge controversy over a string of offensive tweets he posted in the past.

Toby Young has come under huge pressure over hsitoric tweets.
PA Images

In a dramatic move, the right-wing journalist said his appointment to the new Office for Students "has become a distraction from its vital work of broadening access to higher education and defending academic freedom".

He said he now planned to return to promoting the free school movement he has been one of the driving forces behind.

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Mr Young has faced a storm of criticism since his appointment to the role was first announced by the Government on New Year's Day.

He has been accused of misogyny and homophobia over a large number of messages he posted on his Twitter page several years ago.

Mr Young deleted around 50,000 tweets last week, including one in which he suggested he masturbated over charity marathon Comic Relief in 2009.

Other previous tweets by Mr Young include one in which he said a female MP had “quite a cleavage” and one in which he joked about a woman pictured with him that he “had my d*** up her a***”.

Labour had called on Theresa May to sack him from his post, and at the weekend the Prime Minister issued him with a final warning that any repeat of his previous behaviour would result in his dismissal.

In a statement on The Spectator website, Mr Young said: "The caricature drawn of me in the last seven days, particularly on social media, has been unrecognisable to anyone who knows me. I am a passionate supporter of inclusion and helping the most disadvantaged, as I hope my track record of setting up and supporting new schools demonstrates.

"But some of the things I said before I got involved in education, when I was a journalistic provocateur, were either ill-judged or just plain wrong – and I unreservedly apologise.

"I would like to thank the Prime Minister for standing by me, and drawing a distinction between my earlier life and my subsequent record in education

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott was among the first politicians to react to Mr Young's resignation.