Petition to 'reinstate' veteran broadcaster Alastair Stewart reaches 35k signatures
Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition to have Alastair Stewart reinstated following his departure from ITV News over social media posts.
The veteran broadcaster - whose career in front of the camera spans 40 years - said in a statement to the PA news agency yesterday that he made a "misjudgment which I regret".
Stewart, who joined ITN in 1980 as industrial correspondent, said: "It was a misjudgment which I regret, but it's been a privilege to bring the news to households throughout the UK for the past 40 years."
ITN said that the journalist's use of social media "breached" its editorial guidelines, but did not elaborate about the nature of Stewart's actions.
Michael Jermey, director of news and current affairs at ITV, said: "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."
Yesterday a Change.org petition with a target of 25,000 was created by account user 'Justice for the Injustice', which at the time of writing this had amassed over 35,000 signatures.
Ranvir Singh told Good Morning Britain yesterday she was "upset" about Stewart's departure and texted her friend to see if he was OK.
"I feel really upset about it... I would never use the word 'racist' and his name in the same sentence," she said.
"He has ... only ever been gracious and encouraging to me... He has spoken about other black talent in the newsroom and why companies don't give them more work ... and he wants them to have more work.
"He's a gentleman."
The Preston-born broadcaster added: "He's my friend and I feel sorry for him.
"In my gut, I would put my house on it that not for one second did he write that quote thinking that it was in any way a slur on someone's skin colour."
Stewart, who has deleted his Twitter account, has been a staff reporter and presenter on ITV News programmes.
Recently he has worked as a part-time freelance presenter, mainly on the lunchtime news and weekend programmes.
During his career, Stewart has covered stories such as the Beslan school siege and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and he has been honoured with several awards.
In 2004, he was named presenter of the year at the Royal Television Society Awards and in 2006 he received an OBE for services to broadcasting and charity.
A petition to get him reinstated has notched up more than 35,000 signatures.