Starkey apologises for ‘clumsy’ slavery comments

Historian David Starkey has said using comments denounced as racist during a discussion about slavery was “a bad mistake” for which he is “very sorry”.

He apologised “unreservedly” for the offence his “deplorably inflammatory” words had caused, saying he has spoken last month “with awful clumsiness”.

The academic and author told an online show that slavery was not genocide as “so many damn blacks” had survived.

His comments were widely condemned and saw him lose several university posts.

Cambridge University’s Fitzwilliam College, Canterbury Christ Church University and The Mary Rose Trust were among the organisations to cut ties with him.

Starkey made the offensive remarks in an episode of Darren Grimes’s Reasoned, entitled Dr David Starkey: Black Lives Matter Aims To Delegitimate British History.

Grimes, a conservative commentator, also distanced himself from his guest’s remarks, saying he rejected what Starkey said on his YouTube show “in the strongest possible terms”.

‘Paid a heavy price’

In a statement released on Monday, Starkey said he had “paid a heavy price for one offensive word with the loss of every distinction and honour acquired in a long career”.

Speaking about his use of the phrase “so many damn blacks”, he said: “It was intended to emphasise, in hindsight with awful clumsiness, the numbers who survived the horrors of the slave trade. Instead, it came across as a term of racial abuse.

“This, in the present atmosphere, where passions are high and feelings raw, was deplorably inflammatory. It was a bad mistake.

He added: “I am very sorry for it and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it caused.

“Moreover, this misunderstanding of my words in no way reflects my views or practice on race.

“I have lived and worked happily and without conflict in multicultural London for almost 50 years and I spent much of the podcast discussing bi-culturalism as a key to the success of Britain’s multicultural society.”

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