MINISTERS' DISGUST AT HOOK FOR RAPE RANT; Broadcaster Apologises as Politicians and Personalities Condemn 76-Year-Old's Comments over Alleged Sex Attack on Woman in Hotel; Hook Savaged For'victim Blaming'

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), September 10, 2017 | Go to article overview

MINISTERS' DISGUST AT HOOK FOR RAPE RANT; Broadcaster Apologises as Politicians and Personalities Condemn 76-Year-Old's Comments over Alleged Sex Attack on Woman in Hotel; Hook Savaged For'victim Blaming'


Byline: John Drennan and Niamh Walsh

CONTROVERSIAL broadcaster George Hook was forced into a humiliating apology yesterday after a barrage of criticism for comments suggesting an alleged rape victim should share the blame for what happened to her.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan issued a scathing rebuke of the Newstalk presenter saying the comments were 'a matter of real concern given that George Hook holds a position of very high responsibility in Irish public and broadcasting life'.

Newstalk issued a statement, which included quotes from Mr Hook, disavowing his statement. But the station dodged questions yesterday on whether he will face sanction for the comments made on his afternoon radio show on Friday.

The broadcaster's only defender last night was conservative Senator Ronan Mullen, who suggested that even innocent people needed to protect themselves from evil.

Mr Hook, 76, made the comments while discussing the case of a 19-year-old woman who alleges she was raped by a former member of the British swim team. The woman said she was raped by the man after having consensual sex with a different man who was the swimmer's friend.

Commonwealth Games swimmer Otto Putland, 23, was acquitted of one count of rape but could face a retrial on a second charge after a jury failed to reach a verdict.

Speaking about the case on Friday's programme, Mr Hook said: 'She was passed around, went the story. And apparently she went to bed with one guy and he goes out and another guy comes in. She doesn't want to have relations with the second guy but he forces himself upon her. Awful.'

He continued: 'But when you then look deeper into the story you have to ask certain questions. Why does a girl who just meets a fella in a bar go back to a hotel room? She's only just barely met him. She has no idea of his health conditions, she has no idea who he is, she has no idea of what dangers he might pose.

'But modern-day social activity means that she goes back with him. Then is surprised when somebody else comes into the room and rapes her. Should she be raped? Course she shouldn't. Is she entitled to say 'no'? Absolutely. Is the guy who came in a scumbag? Certainly. Should he go to jail? Of course. All of those things,' he said.

'But is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger?' he asked.

'There is personal responsibility, because it's your daughter and it's my daughter. And what determines the daughter who goes out, gets drunk, passes out and is with strangers in her room and the daughter that goes out, stays halfway sober and comes home, I don't know. I wish I knew. I wish I knew what the secret of parenting is.

'But there is a point of responsibility. The real issue nowadays, and increasingly, is the question of the personal responsibility that young girls are taking for their own safety.' Celebrities, politicians and other broadcasters were united in their opposition and revulsion at the remarks. It's the second time since 2015 that Mr Hook has had to withdraw or clarify controversial comments on rape.

Then he said there was 'implied consent' in the cases like that of Niamh Ni Dhomhnaill whose boyfriend raped her in her sleep. Businesswoman Norah Casey - who recently broke her silence on her personal experience of domestic violence - described Mr Hook's comments as 'victim-blaming'.

She said of her former Newstalk colleague's comments: 'It's shocking that we allow comments around the morality of a woman in a rape case to be broadcast unchecked. I don't think George Hook's comments are outdated, they're far too prevalent and the reason why women who are victims of rape are frightened of coming forward.

'Character assassination is still used in many Irish rape cases where the woman's morals, clothes, intake of alcohol or drugs are all used to imply she was asking for it. We've even had cases where taking birth control pills was used to imply the victim's morality was questionable. …

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MINISTERS' DISGUST AT HOOK FOR RAPE RANT; Broadcaster Apologises as Politicians and Personalities Condemn 76-Year-Old's Comments over Alleged Sex Attack on Woman in Hotel; Hook Savaged For'victim Blaming'
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