GMB’s Alex Beresford quits social media over relentless racist abuse after Piers Morgan row

Harriet Brewis
Thursday 01 April 2021 12:32
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Good Morning Britain host Alex Beresford has quit social media after suffering an onslaught of racist abuse following his on-air spat with Piers Morgan.

The 40-year-old presenter and weatherman clashed with his then ITV co-star on the show the morning after Meghan and Harry’s explosive Oprah Winfrey interview.

Morgan, 55, said he “didn’t believe a word” of the Duchess of Sussex’s account of experiencing racism and suffering suicidal thoughts during her time as a working royal.

Beresford stepped in to defend her against his outspoken colleague, accusing Morgan of unfairly “trashing” Meghan, and branding his behaviour “diabolical”.

Morgan then stormed off set and, hours later, quit his high profile post. Beresford has been suffering the repercussions ever since.

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Writing for The Telegraphon Thursday, Beresford – whose mother is white British and father is Guyanese – revealed that the backlash he’d endured since the clash had become intolerable, forcing him to take action.

He wrote: “I haven’t announced it (like the former Arsenal player Thierry Henry did this week when he publicly quit social media, in response to anonymous racist bullying) but I have been forced to step away from Twitter and Facebook myself, because it was getting too much.

“I am a strong person, but I am not made of steel.”

He continued: “These are just the past few weeks of my own, very much lived experience of racism in Britain,” adding: “Not all racism is caught on camera. Not all racism is a black man lying on the ground with a knee on his neck. It comes in many forms.”

Beresford framed his essay around the debate over the Government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report, released the previous day.

The commission’s chairman Dr Tony Sewell said his team had found no evidence of “institutional racism” in the UK and insisted the term should not be used as a “catch-all” phrase for any microaggression.

They concluded that geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion all affect life chances more than racism.

Their findings have been described as insulting, divisive and “completely out of kilter with where British society is.”

People participating in Black Lives Matter protests last summer

(PA)

However, one of the report’s more widely-accepted points is that social media “enormously amplifies racist views.”

Online abuse – which enables people to be targeted in their own homes – is a "unique torment", the report states.

Facebook,YouTube and other platforms with a huge user base have provided racists with a new, more public way to inflict pain on their victims, it adds, while suggesting that social media companies too often fail to enforce their own rules against bullying.

Ending his deeply personal and moving comment piece, Beresford added: “Social media has clearly had an impact on our ability to engage in open discourse and listen to opposing views.

“In order to move the conversation on we will have to have those difficult conversations. Part of that process might just have to be agreeing to disagree.”

More: The tweet that made me think of the realities of racial insensitivity in the guise of jokes

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