Toby Young resigns as university regulator after saying his appointment has become a ‘distraction’
The man who once put on a wig in an attempt to “pull a lesbian” and called people “penis breath” and “queer as coot” on Twitter has resigned from his position as a board member of the universities regulator.
Journalist and free schools advocate Toby Young announced that he will no longer be an Office of Students board member after citing that his appointment was providing a “distraction from its vital work”.
More than 222,000 people signed a petition asking Young to step down from his position after a string of homophobic, sexist and ableist comments the journalist had made were brought to light.
After commenting that working-class students at Oxbridge are “stains”, students with learning disabilities are “illiterate troglodytes” and writing several comments about women celebrities’ breasts, LBC’s James O’Brien brought several comments to light and put pressure on the right-wing commentator to resign.
In response, Young went on to remove around 50,000 tweets from his micro-blogging website after they reemerged.
Toby Young has deleted almost 50,000 tweets today pic.twitter.com/Bgn60UmBCc
— Matthew Champion (@matthewchampion) January 3, 2018
“The caricature drawn of me in the last seven days, particularly on social media, has been unrecognisable to anyone who knows me,” Young wrote in his Spectator column announcing the resignation.
“I am a passionate supporter of inclusion and helping the most disadvantaged, as I hope my track record of setting up and supporting new schools demonstrates.
But some of the things I said before I got involved in education, when I was a journalistic provocateur, were either ill-judged or just plain wrong – and I unreservedly apologise.”
Calls were also made from Labour to sack Young, who said that the comments proved Young was “completely unsuitable” for the role.
“By any measure, this is a shocking appointment by the Prime Minister,” said Dawn Butler, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities.
“These comments show that Toby Young is completely unsuitable for this role.
“If she fails to rethink this appointment, the message Theresa May is sending to students is that under the Tories, misogyny and homophobia will not just be tolerated but rewarded,” she added.
When questioned about his capability in office on the Andrew Marr Show, Prime Minister Theresa May said that Young “has done exceedingly good work in relation to free schools” but she was “not at all impressed by those comments.”
“When he was appointed, I was not aware of these comments that he had made. Frankly I am not at all impressed by those comments.
“He is now in public office and as far as I am concerned, if he was to continue to use that kind of language and talk in that sort of way, he would no longer be in public office.”
Minister of State at the Department for Transport and brother of Boris Johnson Jo Johnson said that Young’s resignation was down to a “one-sided caricature from his armchair critics.”
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Toby Young's track record setting up & supporting free schools speaks for itself. His decision to stand down from the OfS board and repeat unreserved apologies for inappropriate past remarks reflects his character better than the one-sided caricature from his armchair critics.
— Jo Johnson (@JoJohnsonUK) January 9, 2018
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has also been shamed for his comments about “tank-topped bumboys” and compared gay marriage to getting hitched to a dog also defended Young’s appointment.
“Ridiculous outcry over Toby Young. He will bring independence, rigour and caustic wit. Ideal man for job,” the Foreign Secretary write on Twitter.