The Telegraph’s former Whitehall editor, who left the title under a cloud last year, has said he intends to quit journalism for good.
Owen Bennett left the Telegraph in October, three months after joining, when it emerged that he had resigned from his former employer Huffpost UK following an allegation of inappropriate behaviour.
He launched his news website, In Case You Missed It News, last month which he said would focus on policy stories affecting people beyond Westminster that need “greater examination and coverage”.
But Bennett abandoned the project yesterday amid online criticism, saying he would now “leave journalism as it is clear that even attempting to carry on in a relatively small manner is not welcome by a sizeable number of people”.
Bennett spent three years as deputy political editor at Huffpost UK but left in 2018 after what he described as a “small number of inappropriate comments to a colleague in the context of a friendly work relationship”.
In a 500-word statement shared on Twitter yesterday, before he deleted his account, Bennett added: “I accept that these comments crossed a line of what was appropriate, and as soon as I was made aware that they had caused my colleague to feel uncomfortable I sought to apologise for them.
“However, a disciplinary process was underway which I had no faith in so I decided it was best for all involved to leave Huffpost in August 2018. This brought the matter to a satisfactory conclusion for all involved, and a line was drawn.
“I apologise again for the comments and accept I had behaved in a way that was unprofessional and immature.”
Bennett later said he “strongly” rejected any notion his behaviour could constitute a #MeToo scandal.
But he confirmed he did not tell the Telegraph about what happened when he was offered the Whitehall editor role at the paper in July last year, saying he “felt it had all been dealt with”.
He worked as head of politics at City AM for about ten months in between his roles at Huffpost UK and the Telegraph.
“In October, the Telegraph told me a story was going to be published containing this information and decided that it would cause them reputational harm to continue employing me,” he wrote.
Bennett went on to apologise for “letting people down, and not conducting myself appropriately at times”, admitting he “did cross lines”.
He also said he felt “sad that certain people have rushed to judgement without neither knowing nor seeking out the facts” and that he has faced “ongoing” mental health issues.
Bennett said he had hoped to continue in journalism with ICYMI News, although he insisted he had not planned to return to the Lobby or to make further broadcast appearances.
However yesterday afternoon, before deleting his Facebook page and personal and ICYMI News Twitter accounts, he said: “I am truly sorry that errors of judgement I made have caused me to lose my career, but the mistakes I made are mine, and I have to carry them.”
Picture: Sky News