BBC broadcaster quits history charity in protest at 'racist and misogynist' Boris Johnson

Posted On: 
17th August 2018

A prominent history buff has resigned from a classics charity in protest at the involvement of Boris Johnson - as she branded the Tory bigwig a "dog-whistling racist and misogynist".

Boris Johnson sparked anger with a Telegraph column about the burqa earlier this month
Credit: 
PA Images

Author and broadcaster Natalie Haynes quit as a patron of Classics for All after the former foreign secretary said women who wear burqas look like "bank robbers" and "letter boxes".

His comments sparked outrage among Tory MPs and major Muslim groups and left him facing an official Conservative probe.

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It emerged this week that Classics for All had removed its listing of Mr Johnson as a patron from its website and bosses said they were reviewing his involvement.

Ms Haynes - who features regularly on the BBC and studied classics at Cambridge - wrote an explosive letter to the charity chief executive seen by BuzzFeed News.

She said: "I'm sorry to have to be writing this, but I don't feel able to stay on as a patron of a charity which offers Boris Johnson the slightest veneer of respectability.

"I appreciate that the Board members wish to discuss it, and I've no doubt August is a difficult time to bring everyone together

"That's one of the many disadvantages of having a dog-whistling racist and misogynist as a patron: you never know when they'll next spew their hate-mongering remarks."

The ‘Natalie Haynes Stands up for the Classics’ radio show host added: "I would like to withdraw as a patron until after the Board meets in October discuss the issue…

"I hope very much that they will choose to shun a person who chooses to advance his own cause at any price with no regard for those who are caught in the crossfire.”

And she blasted: "I'm obviously glad that the charity doesn't endorse his remarks, but I'm afraid I don't think that's enough.

“I don't believe the charity should have as its patron someone who makes these responses necessary.”

Classics for All promotes the teachings of Greek, Latin and classical civilisation in state schools.

In a statement the charity said earlier this week: “The team at Classics for All is committed to increasing access to classics and works with many Muslim pupils.

“We do not endorse or support Boris Johnson’s statement or comments.”

The charity declined to comment while trustees take a "considered review".