Nick Ross blasts ‘extraordinary aggression by women’ at Fiona
He defends host in ‘wife beater’ row
BROADCASTER Nick Ross has condemned the ‘extraordinary amount of aggression’ from women towards Fiona Bruce after she was accused of trivialising domestic violence.
Ms Bruce was forced to step down as an ambassador for domestic abuse charity Refuge after she came under fire for intervening when Boris Johnson’s father Stanley was described as a ‘wifebeater’ on the BBC1’ s Question Time programme last week.
Ross, who co-hosted Crimewatch with Ms Bruce for seven years, said it was ‘unfair’ to target the presenter when she was ‘merely trying to correct balance’ as he accused Women’s Aid chief executive Farah Nazeer of ‘ throwing paraffin on the flames’.
As a social media storm whipped up, Ms Nazeer published a statement on Friday, the morning after the show, saying the charity was ‘shocked’ by Ms Bruce’s ‘harmful’ response as she has previously campaigned against domestic abuse with Women’s Aid and other charities.
Mr Ross told the Mail: ‘It’s so unfair to attack a presenter who’s merely trying to correct balance.
‘What’s so fascinating about this is nearly all the critics seem to be women attacking another woman with an extraordinary amount of aggression, and actually a woman who has been a long term advocate, a campaigner, against intimate violence. The whole thing strikes me as really rather sad.’
Ms Bruce, 58, interrupted a debate when journalist Yasmin Alibhai- Brown said Stanley’s alleged history of violence was ‘on record’. Ms Bruce said: ‘I’m not disputing what you’re saying, but just so everyone knows what this is referring to, Stanley Johnson’s wife spoke to a journalist, Tom Bower, and she said that Stanley Johnson had broken her nose and that she’d ended up in hospital as a result.
‘Stanley Johnson has not commented publicly on that. Friends of his have said it did happen but it was a one-off.’
Ross, 75, said it is ‘ acceptable and reasonable’ for those who have been affected by domestic abuse to feel angry, but that those in positions of responsibility should ‘recognise the difficult position’ that Ms Bruce was in.
He continued: ‘I can understand why some women felt let down by Fiona and one or two might have even felt angry and felt that she minimised the impact. But that doesn’t excuse Farah Nazeer.
‘She’s a CEO. She’s in a responsible position and yes of course she should say she’s heard from people who are upset about this, but she should recognise the difficult position Fiona found herself in and she should not have been throwing paraffin on the flames...
‘[Fiona] will feel bruised and upset for months on end.’
Ms Nazeer said Ms Bruce’s comment was ‘unnecessary and irresponsible’, adding: ‘Even if abuse is an isolated event, it would have still been domestic abuse, and this should never be minimised.’
Carol Vorderman was among those criticising Ms Bruce and called for her to be ‘sacked’ from Question Time, or failing that, ‘whoever supposedly “ordered” her to say “his friends say it was a one-off”’.
Ms Alibhai-Brown said she felt ‘obliged to correct the misrepresentations and defend Bruce’ after she ‘unintentionally caused this furore’.
She said the reaction to Bruce is ‘inexcusable’, adding: ‘She doesn’t deserve this.’
Ms Bruce said her words were ‘mischaracterised’ in a ‘ social media storm’ and were not an expression of her own opinions.
She said she was ‘ required to legally contextualise’ Ms AlibhaiBrown’s response.
The BBC said: ‘ She was not expressing any personal opinion about the situation.’
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Susanna Reid said it was ‘outrageous’ that Ms Bruce is ‘being held personally accountable for those words’, adding: ‘She wasn’t arguing with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown... She says in the clip “I am not disputing what you are saying”. She couldn’t have made it more clear.’
Stanley Johnson’s ex-wife, the late artist Charlotte Wahl, told the PM’s biographer Bower that her former husband ‘hit me many times, over many years’.
Representatives for Ms Nazeer declined to comment last night.