Exonerated

Exonerated

There is room in life for being willing to accept an apology from someone who has caused great offence. I have just received an especially abject one from Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow, about his notorious tweet. Others, as I warned when he telephoned me today, will be less charitable. My view is that we may remain highly critical of the original sin while recognising the sincerity and depth of contrition …


Robert Halfon today offered an unqualified apology
for the “scumbag football hooligans” tweet that outraged the people of Sunderland and all supporters of SAFC, from the club’s great catchment area of County Durham and beyond.

“I will regret that tweet as long as I live,” Mr Halfon told Salut! Sunderland by telephone after initiating contact via Twitter.


“I have learned a lot over the past couple of days. First, to look at events in perspective. Second, not to use intemperate language. Third, to fess up and apologise when you get it wrong.”

These remarkably self-critical statements, rare in tone from any public figure except perhaps when caught doing something unspeakably criminal, may lead many to forgive the miscreant even if they will not easily forget the offence caused. I am with them, as I told Mr Halfon. But I also warned him others would be less forgiving; mitigation rather than a defence.

I began by telling the MP that since I had been extremely critical of him, here was his opportunity to say where I had got it wrong.

His response: “I think you and other Sunderland supporters have every right to be critical. My tweet was an over-reaction and an emotive use of language because we had been walking on broken glass.

“I regret having written it and I give a full apology to anyone, particularly from Sunderland, who has been offended.”

He repeated his assertion – “on my life, my father’s life” – that his tweet was not intentionally directed at Sunderland fans or those of any other club. It was purely his reaction to having had to walk through broken glass while out in Covent Garden on Saturday night. “Whether or not anyone believes me, that is the God honest truth,” he added.

“But my language was wrong and emotive. I can see why it caused offence to the people of Sunderland. I wish I had never written that tweet and am hugely apologetic for having done so.”

Mackemoiselles

Mackemoiselles

The story so far:
* https://salutsunderland.com/2014/03/robert-halfon-mp-an-open-letter-from-an-insulted-sunderland-fan/

** https://salutsunderland.com/2014/03/beauty-and-the-beast-sunderlands-wembley-montage-and-a-wriggling-tory-mp/
'Still not good enough Mr Halfon'

‘Fair play, Mr Halfon’

Mr Halfon conceded the “fair point” made by Sheila Webster, on these pages, and by others elsewhere that the lack of litter bins gave people little choice about where to deposit the same kind of litter left by revellers on New Year’s Eve or attending other celebrations. He is aware now that police officers actually told supporters to put their bottles or glasses on the ground, and says he would probably have been similarly angry and “have a go at someone” if forced to walk through broken glass after any big event.

He added that he was not a gloryseeking, Johnny-come-lately supporter of Chelsea but had been a fan “since I was a kid and my grandfather would take me”. And far from being unable to find his way north of Watford, he knows the North East well, has been to Sunderland and South Shields, stayed in Darlington and enjoyed holidays in the region because he loves the countryside of Durham and Northumberland.

I have had my say. He has now had his. Comments remain open ….

Monsieur Salut, by Matt

Monsieur Salut, by Matt

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

21 Responses to “Robert Halfon speaks: ‘I’ll regret that tweet for rest of my life’” Subscribe

  1. Jeremy March 4, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    Halfone. He couldn’t be a Full One now could he?

    Do us all a favour mate. Shut up and bugger off before we come round your house and have a word.

  2. Nic Wiseman March 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Well this is certainly a fulsome apology. I find it astonishing that a person in his position has the lack of judgment to fire off such a missive in the first place. No doubt the whips office will have been made aware of this episode and Mr Cameron will be steering well clear of Harlow when appointments are next considered.

  3. Stephen FTM Thompson March 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    Appreciate his apology, particularly over the phone, but words are easy. Perhaps he could show his sincerity is real by making some sort of gesture towards the North East? Raise the profile of a NE charity maybe, or go and help out doing voluntary work for a day? The divide between the pampered Tory arseholes and the real world has never been greater. Here is a big chance for him to build some sort of bridge.

  4. Clapmack March 4, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    I was outraged by his tweet. I tweeted him, also tweeted the @DavidCameron twitter account and wrote to The Times (how sad am I!). Needless to say I got no response from any of them. But if he is big enough to make the full apology you quote above, then I think we need to be big enough to accept it and move on.

  5. gerry mcgregor March 4, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    I think life t too short to hold grudges. At least he had the good grace and contact you and admit that he had got it wrong.

    I know better than anyone that sometimes I tweet the wrong thing or it looks more aggressive than it was intended.

    Lets not dwell on one guy and look back on great time most folks had & the comments by the police and others about how well behaved the fans were.

    • malcolm March 4, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

      “Lets not dwell on one guy and look back on great time most folks had & the comments by the police and others about how well behaved the fans were.”

      Couldn’t agree more Gerry.

  6. Pete Sixsmith March 4, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    He should come to the North East and have an apologising contest with Alan Pardew. Both seem to have had unfortunate weekends.
    Do we really care what a Tory MP says/thinks/does? We have two in the region and that is two too many for me.

  7. Sheila Webster March 4, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    Well, he has done the decent thing – EVENTUALLY. But this has only come about following an initial wriggle then a half hearted insincere apology.

    We have all had a moan about things when we haven’t known the full situation, but for someone is his position to do so, so publicly and with such vitriol defies belief.

    I for one am woman enough to accept the apology -his ridiculous ill founded comments have caused a storm of protest – yes I too have written a letter of complaint to Julie Elliott – but I will not allow this person to tarnish what for me was an amazing experience.

    I have never been more proud to be a football fan – and never moreso to be a Sunderland fan. Sunderland folks are passionate people, not Scumbag Football Hooligans – let’s hope Mr Halfon learns by his obvious mistake!

  8. Jeremy March 4, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    “Do we really care what a Tory MP says/thinks/does? We have two in the region and that is two too many for me.”

    Well Pete. We know what they think, but this was a rare example of one of them being explicit about it. If they thought like you and me they wouldn’t be Tories. No, I don’t really care what any of them say but it’s good to be able to take a swipe back at them and to see this individual embarrassed and shamed so publlically is gratifying. It’s two too many for me anarl.

  9. CSB March 4, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    Bloody politics raising it head in football yet again. I really couldn’t care less what party he belongs to, it was an astonishingly stupid , offensive and inaccurate thing to say….could accuse plenty from our political spectrum of equally stupid statements on a multitude of subjects.

    Politicians are basically opportunists who think they can gain a bit of clout by jumping on the ‘Mr outraged from London’ bandwagon…on this occasion it has backfired spectacularly.

    I am more annoyed that is has impacted upon a special occasion for SAFC rather than what the throwback said. If polotics interests you that much you should be happy because his ignorant, false and stupid comments are all merely vote losers.

  10. Drummer March 4, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    Want to do something to make it up to Sunderland ? Re open the pits and the shipyards ,that your useless party of privilege thought was a jolly good weeze to demolish ! Get some investment back into this City and help the sterling efforts of SAFC though its charity and foundation work to provide the hope and future for our young people that your lot have stolen from them !

    • John Mac March 5, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

      Don’t reopen Monkwearmouth Colliery, PDC left us in a big enough hole.
      You can’t blame tories for the closure of the Durham coalfield.
      Shipyards, yes. Consett, yes. Elswick, mmmm, yes. But the pits were worked out in my youth

      • Drummer March 6, 2014 at 7:12 am #

        Ha ha, good point about Moonkwearmouth! I’m aware that closing the pits wasn’t a solely Tory venture , but they certainly didnt help and ultimately finished them off. Labour are to blame aswell , in that they’ve not reversed any of their anti Northern policy’s , they’ve all let us down , just some more that most . I worked in the shipyards myself, the most advanced in the world at the time, thrown away like bad rubbish, absolute disgrace !

  11. Jeremy March 4, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

    Drummer. They could make sure that the city will have a fire station and a police station in the city centre. As someone said earlier he is worried about Sunderland fans turning Covent Garden into a cess pit. He needs to take a look and see what his party has done to Sunderland.

    Tory scum.

    • Drummer March 4, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

      Exactly , no fire station , no police station , they’ll turn us into bloody Dodge City?

  12. Drummer March 4, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    I don’t see him urging a return of the many hundreds of thousands of pounds , probably more that we “scumbag hooligans” lavished on his guilded city of wonder over the weekend !

  13. vince March 4, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

    Well he sounds a very sorry puppy now,well done Salut for rubbing his nose in his own puddle.

    He’ll think twice about doing something similar again…life is a learning curve.

    Still we all know that is what he really thinks and twitter is a rather dangerous medium for those who tweet before thinking…..this applies to politicians and footballers especially.

  14. Stanley Gray March 6, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    I sent this Tory w***** an email about his comments and told him that I would rather have as my friends the said football supporters from Sunderland than his Tory bed fellows and hope to see them in London again for the semi and final of the FA Cup.
    He has since apologised which came as a great surprise.

    • Drummer March 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

      Nice one , it was a great day ( result aside – for us ) and this stuck up twit won’t spoil it for anyone !

  15. Joanne May 24, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Well Sunderland have started voting tory now so you are getting the true Tory feelings here about how Tories feel about you! You’ve betrayedyour working class roots so you deserve everything you get.

    • salutsunderland May 25, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

      Any chance of an explanation, Joanne? Not sure what point you are making.

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