NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
Anger over alleged anti-Cornish press comments continues – this from Michael Chappell of Kernow Branch:
“Kernow Branch has Cornish hate crime committed by journalist recorded
Avon and Somerset Police have formally recorded a report received from the Kernow Branch of the Celtic League as a hate incident in the Force’s crime records under reference number 25522/15.
This matter relates to an article written by journalist Chris Rundle and published in the Western Daily Press on Wednesday 11th March, 2015.
In the article bearing the sub headline ‘Cornish is not worth the prop’, Mr. Rundle, described a fellow colleague named as Steve as having ‘to put up with quite a bit of stick, one way and another, for the fact that he hails from Cornwall. Nothing personal, of course. Not his fault he was born in Bude, after all’. He further described many Cornish people as having been born looking ‘blank’. He went on to inaccurately report that there were only 11 speakers of Cornish. He then reported that many of those who had moved to Cornwall were ‘assorted hippies, second-home owners and antiques dealers’. He added that Cornish was at danger of dying out ‘mainly because we have moved on a long way when individual tribes spoke on their own grunted codes and a bloke from one valley would find it difficult to understand what they were saying in the next’.
In an article which suggested that the Cornish should stop asking for money which would be of no practical use, Mr. Rundle appeared to completely overlook the fact that Cornish people pay a number of taxes. As a further swipe, he concluded that the Bretons had ‘grants frantically shovelled into Brittany to appease the rebellious population who still regard themselves as a race apart’ and suggested that Cornish language students should go to Brittany.
Rundle appears to be vociferously anti Cornish. In the same newspaper, this so called South West Columnist of the Year for the Western Daily Press (based in Bristol), wrote an article dated 28 November 2007 entitled ‘Saints alive! Pasty eaters demand new bank holiday’ and went on to describe his contempt for the ‘pasty eaters’, their Cornish indigenous language, Saint Piran’s day and describes Cornwall as ‘one of the most depressing places one can find oneself, with an economy barely more buoyant than that of Romania’. The article begins with the question ‘When is someone going to put the Cornish in their place?’ and describes the Cornish language as sounding ‘like someone speaking Urdu with a mouth full of nails’.
The Kernow Branch immediately wrote with a complaint to the Chief Editor of the Western Daily Press and as the newspaper is based in Bristol, formally reported a crime of stirring up racial hatred against the Cornish National Minority to Avon and Somerset Police.
In response, the newspaper’s Chief Editor, Rob Stokes apologised stating ‘I am sorry that you and your colleagues were upset by Chris Rundle’s column.
As a columnist Chris is often provocative and stirs debate. However I certainly felt the tone of his article yesterday was more tongue-in-cheek than an attempt to be deliberately offensive.
However, I do appreciate that safeguarding the future of languages is important and it really wasn’t our intention to undermine your ……. purpose or intent’.
Mr. Stokes then allowed a rebuttal of the article to be made in his newspaper which was written by Cornish historian, archaeologist, author and speaker Craig Weatherhill. The fact based response was published in full on 18th March, 2015 with a front page headline asking, ‘Why do you dislike Cornish Mr Rundle?’
The Kernow Branch was in receipt of over 30 emails of support from members of the public many of which had been sent to the Western Daily Press.
In discussions with Detective Inspector Highway and Detective Sergeant Jay of Bristol police, officers of the Kernow Branch were pleased to be informed that the content of Mr. Rundle’s article had been recorded as a hate incident and in view of the fact that the newspaper’s Editor had apologised and allowed a very full and well publicised response, were content to leave the matter rest but that it would be resurrected should there be any further racist insults written by the journalist. As Detective Inspector Highway pointed out in his communication, ‘I completely accept that these comments are something that you find unacceptable and motivated by hate, which is why it is appropriate that it is recorded it as such on our crime recording system’. A briefing note has also been lodged with the Independent Press Standards Commission.
Treasurer of the Kernow Branch, Tony Leamon said, ‘We are grateful to the Avon and Somerset Police and indeed to the Editor of the Western Daily Press for treating our complaint efficiently and proactively. The Cornish are a legally recognised National Minority now, many speaking a lawfully recognised and protected Brythonic Celtic language and offensive and highly inaccurate articles such as those written by Mr. Rundle are not acceptable. No National or ethnic minority or indeed other grouping should be exposed to this type of unpleasant journalism and we call for mutual and civilised respect between one and all. Many still appear to forget that people in Cornwall pay taxes as well and that sums of money passed to us from Westminster are not gifts from benevolent English people living the other side of the Tamar. We have seen Prime Minister Cameron announce that £250,000 is to be spent in gull control after he had a slice of ham taken from his sandwich whilst in Cornwall. That really does place a grant of £150,000 towards our language taken from taxes we ourselves pay in so many different ways into perspective. Sadly, Mr. Rundle has a history of making anti Cornish remarks and should this issue arise again, then his past actions are now on record and will comprise part of any future complaint’.
The Western Daily Press is owned by ‘Local World’ which also owns ‘The West Briton’ and its sister newspapers ‘The Cornishman’ and ‘The Cornish Guardian’ as well as the ‘Western Morning News’ and many other papers. Local World is owned by Daily Mail and General Trust, Yattendon Group, Trinity Mirror and others.”
We will carry updates on this story as and when received from Kernow.
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur)
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