Former GQ writer Rupert Myers has spoken out about the “overwhelming experience” of being publicly named as someone who behaved inappropriately towards women.
Writing in the Evening Standard today he said: “When a woman spoke out about her discomfort at my attempt to kiss her years ago outside a bar, I was shocked. My recollection differs in some respects, but I understand now that what I did upset her.
“A number of women described on social media how I had behaved towards them. I apologised publicly, and I stand by my apology: I propositioned women and made them feel uncomfortable through my inappropriate behaviour.”
Talking about the impact the furore had over him, he said: “I am not at all comfortable admitting this publicly, but when my life became the focus of social media and news interest, it was an overwhelming experience. I want to express my gratitude to the Samaritans, and a woman whose name I don’t know who volunteers for them and answered a telephone call from me. Beyond public expression of thanks I have no other hope of reaching out to her.
“If you ever find yourself questioning what — if anything — you have to live for, I would encourage you to call them. It is painful for me to admit this, but is no overstatement to say that a few close friends and the careful patience of that volunteer who offered to stay with me on the phone brought me back from the edge.
“None of this is easy to talk about, and I have always been a relatively private person, but the magnitude of the response, the intensity of the media, the ongoing fury of the internet, and the loss of a job I loved have left a permanent impact.”
And he noted how quickly the focus around inappropriate conduct has moved away from journalist towards Westminster.
He said: “Many of my peers will know stories about colourful broadcasters, prominent writers or commissioning editors who drop freelance women who don’t reciprocate their feelings…
“Media organisations focusing on the sexuality of Kevin Spacey and writers paid to produce hit jobs on women who speak out are just two examples of why it matters that — whatever the failings of social media — traditional media has not paid itself the scrutiny that it deserves.
The fee for the article has been donated to The Samaritans.
The Myers piece appears to have been given a cool reception on Twitter.
Guardian writer Suzanne Moore said: “Go away Rupert Myers with this manipulative bullshit. Incidentally I do believe there is a way back and room for remorse BUT this in Gideon’s rag is not it.”
Mollie Goodfellow, editorial assistant at Sky News and co-founder of the Words By Women Awards, said on Twitter: “He [Myers] writes about how he struggled after the allegations and spoke to the Samaritans, and I’m sorry that he felt that way, but this conversation space shouldn’t be taken up by harassers imo.”
She added: “Women, women who have been harassed/assaulted, have been saying this. Why does he need to say it.”
Adam Bienkov of UK Business Insider said: “Poor Rupert Myers, who spent an entire month in the wilderness before being commissioned by a major newspaper again.”