- UK prime minister Theresa May has defended the government’s controversial decision to appoint Toby Young, a journalist who has tweeted numerous sexist and inappropriate remarks about women, to a new universities regulator.
- May told the BBC she was “unimpressed” by Young’s comments but said he wouldn’t be fired.
- Young has been criticised over his lack of qualifications for the job, his apparent sexism, and arguments for eugenics.
Theresa May defended the UK government’s decision to appoint Toby Young to the board of a new universities regulator, despite public outrage over his many sexist and inappropriate tweets.
Speaking to the BBC, May said she was “frankly unimpressed” by his tweets, but that she wouldn’t be firing him.
She said: “First of all, Toby Young has done good work in relation to free schools, that’s what led to him being appointed to the Office of Students. I was not aware of these comments, and I’m frankly not at all impressed.
She continued: “If he continues to use that sort of language and talk in that sort of way, he’d no longer be in public office.”
Young is a right-leaning journalist, lately best known for setting up the West London Free School in 2011. Free schools are state-funded but not fully-controlled by local authorities. They are usually created by groups including charities, religious bodies, businesses and parent groups, and are exempt from sticking completely to the national curriculum.
He is one of several advisors to the newly created Office for Students, the government’s new competition watchdog for universities. Critics slammed his appointment, pointing to his sexist tweets commenting on actress Helen Mirren, Danny Boyle’s daughter (whom Young apparently mistook for his wife), and Claudia Winkleman, among many others. Educators suggested he wasn’t fit for an education post, and also cited articles where he argued against access for disabled children in schools, and for eugenics so low-income parents can choose embryos.
Young deleted his sexist tweets in bulk but you can see most of them here.
Questions have also been asked about Young’s suitability for the role.
The Department for Education had previously claimed that he had held teaching posts at two of the world’s most prestigious universities, Harvard and Cambridge. But the department had to amend its statement after it transpired Young had simply taught undergrads at both universities, rather than taken an academic post.
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