Update 13 October:
The Telegraph has sacked cartoonist Bob Moran over comments he made on social media targeting an NHS doctor over Covid-19 policy.
Moran revealed on Tuesday night he had been given his notice after two weeks on suspension.
It comes a week after he tweeted a lengthy statement in response to the backlash to his comment that a palliative care doctor “deserves to be verbally abused” for encouraging the use of masks on public transport.
He said: “I regret any distress caused by my comments… It was a mistake to send a tweet suggesting that she deserved verbal abuse and I’m sorry if she received any as a result.
“I want to make it clear that I did not target Dr Clarke in any capacity as a journalist or as an employee of Telegraph Media Group. I targeted her in my capacity as a desperate and angry father of a disabled child,” Moran said, explaining the impact the Covid-19 lockdown had on his family.
He added: “I may have gone too far in this instance. I may have violated Twitter’s terms. I may have broken the rules of civilised debate. But I have not broken my promise to my little girl [to stand up for her].”
Original story 28 September:
The Telegraph is set to suspend cartoonist Bob Moran over Twitter posts he has made targeting an NHS doctor, Press Gazette understands.
Moran encouraged his followers to abuse a palliative care doctor who posted about wearing masks on public transport to stop the spread of Covid-19.
He wrote: “She deserves to be verbally abused in public for the rest of her worthless existence. They all do.”
His tweet has since been removed by Twitter for violating its policies.
Doctor Rachel Clarke, tweeting as @doctor_oxford, responded to Moran saying: “Why do you employ a man who openly abuses NHS staff, @telegraph?”
Moran tweeted in response that Clarke “promotes disgusting ideologies” and that her behaviour was “pure evil”.
Press Gazette is not repeating the entire Twitter exchange for legal reasons.
Clarke reported the tweet to police and also threatened to sue Moran for defamation and asked her followers if they would help crowdfund the action if so. Many showed support, including LBC presenter James O’Brien.
The British Medical Association tweeted: “This is appalling to hear Rachel – this is completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated; there should be consequences for abusing NHS staff like this.”
Press Gazette understands that as of early Tuesday afternoon the Telegraph is planning to suspend Moran.
Moran’s website “about” page claims he is “notable for using humour and emotion to convey important messages, defend moral principles and invite people to reflect on what really matters in life”.
Some of his former tweets about Covid-19 include calling a vaccinated person “dangerously misguided” and suggesting the NHS was not being honest about pressure on hospitals.
In January he was challenged on Twitter by fellow Telegraph journalist Bill Gardner who wrote: “Very serious allegations, so I imagine you must have strong evidence that the NHS is ‘lying’. Feel free to pass across. Usual work email. Thanks.”
Five days later Gardner said of Moran encouraging people to break lockdown rules: “There’s sensible debate on lockdown… and there’s this.”
The journalist later added: “Perhaps you don’t read the Telegraph. Plenty of sensibly-held views there, from both sides. And journalists reporting the facts, rather than inciting people to break the law. Thanks.”
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