London – The London-based Guardian newspaper has apologized for and removed from its website a cartoon depicting outgoing BBC chairman Richard Sharp after it was accused of spreading antisemitic tropes.
The image was published the day after Sharp, who is Jewish, announced his resignation for breaching conflict of interest rules. A recent review found that Sharp had failed to disclose his previous involvement in helping to secure an £800,000 loan guarantee for then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The cartoon depicted Sharp with exaggerated features and carrying a puppet of current British leader Rishi Sunak.
Dave Rich, head of policy at the Community Security Trust, noted that the image was similar to those depicting Jews “with outsized, grotesque features, often in conjunction with money and power.”
Sharp, 67, previously worked as a banker and is a former Conservative Party donor. He was appointed chair of the BBC in early 2021.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Guardian said: “We understand the concerns that have been raised. This cartoon does not meet our editorial standards, and we have decided to remove it from our website. The Guardian apologizes to Mr. Sharp, to the Jewish community and to anyone offended.”
The cartoonist, Martin Rowson, similarly apologized: “Satirists, even though largely licensed to speak the unspeakable in liberal democracies, are no more immune to f****** things up than anyone else, which is what I did here.
“I know Richard Sharp is Jewish; actually, while we’re collecting networks of cronyism, I was at school with him, though I doubt he remembers me. His Jewishness never crossed my mind as I drew him as it’s wholly irrelevant to the story or his actions, and it played no conscious role in how I twisted his features according to the standard cartooning playbook.”