It’s been three months since the housing tsar and philosopher Sir Roger Scruton was sacked from the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful commission after he gave an interview to the New Statesman’s George Eaton, in which several of his quotes about China and Hungary were taken out of context.
Now, after a lengthy inquiry into the controversial interview, it looks like the New Statesman has finally issued an official response.
In a statement posted online today, with the simple title of ‘Sir Roger Scruton’ (and burrowed away at the bottom of their homepage), the political magazine has acknowledged that the full context was not given to Scruton’s quotes, and has apologised for posting misleading statements about the interview on social media.
The full statement is below:
‘The New Statesman interview with Sir Roger Scruton (“Cameron’s resignation was the death knell of the Conservative Party”, 10 April) generated substantial media comment and will be readily recalled by most readers. We have now met with Sir Roger and we have agreed jointly to publish this statement.
In the interview, Sir Roger said of China: “They’re creating robots of their own people … each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.” We would like to clarify that Sir Roger’s criticism was not of the Chinese people but of the restrictive regime of the Chinese Communist Party.
Sir Roger is quoted accurately in the article: “Anybody who doesn’t think there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts.” However, the article did not include the rest of Sir Roger’s statement that “it’s not necessarily an empire of Jews; that’s such nonsense”. We would like to clarify that elsewhere in the interview Sir Roger recognised the existence of anti-Semitism in Hungarian society.
After its publication online, links to the article were tweeted out together with partial quotations from the interview – including a truncated version of the quotation regarding China above. We acknowledge that the views of Professor Scruton were not accurately represented in the tweets to his disadvantage. We apologise for this, and regret any distress that this has caused Sir Roger.
Curiously, Mr S notes though that a previous statement on the interview by George Eaton, in which the former Deputy Editor (who has since been demoted to Assistant Editor) stood by the ‘accuracy’ of his interview, and only apologised for his social media conduct, has been scrubbed from the New Statesman’s website.
Visitors to the link, which is still listed on the website, can now only see a blank page with no text or headings… Could it be that the magazine is somehow embarrassed by Eaton’s original apology?