ITV's Ranvir Singh attacked on Twitter for defending Alastair Stewart

ITV reporter Ranvir Singh was today criticised for backing her colleague Alastair Stewart after he was forced out of ITN over claims of racism.

Mrs Singh, 42, who was raised in a Sikh family in Preston, stood up for the veteran presenter after a black Twitter user complained he called him an 'angry ape'.

She told ITV's Good Morning Britain today that Mr Stewart was not racist and also said how she often calls her son Tushaan a 'monkey' but is not being racist to him.

But Twitter users criticised Mrs Singh for her views as a 'woman of colour' and suggested she had put her friendship with Mr Stewart over the issue of racism.

One said: 'You have chosen to put friendship over what in reality is an existing issue in the media. As a woman of colour you should know the position of the other gentleman and how those may be perceived. The context there.'

But Mrs Singh responded: 'This was about a specific person and I spoke about my specific experience of the man. I don't appreciate being told what you think I 'should know' but you're entitled to your view. Thank you.' 

Mrs Singh, who joined ITV in 2012 and is the political editor of GMB, said she had spoken to Mr Stewart in text messages last night and he told her he was 'OK'.

She said today: 'I would never use the word racist and his name in the same sentence. I have sat with him for hours and hours and hours, days and days and days, years, and he has only ever been gracious and encouraging to me.

'We have had talks about how he and his wife have felt proud of what I have achieved and how Alastair Stewart has talked about other black talents in the newsroom and wider and why companies don't give them more work and how he sees black talent in other places and he wants them to have more work and he would know in his position that that might mean that he might get less work.'

Mrs Singh posted this photograph of her with friend and colleague Alastair Stewart last night

Mrs Singh posted this photograph of her with friend and colleague Alastair Stewart last night

Mrs Singh added: 'I can only tell you from my own experience that he is a gentleman and he has done nothing other than totally encourage me. It saddens me.'

Mrs Singh said she she often calls her son Tushaan (pictured together in London last July) a 'monkey' but is not being racist to him

Mrs Singh said she she often calls her son Tushaan (pictured together in London last July) a 'monkey' but is not being racist to him

Mr Stewart said he was quitting after 'a misjudgement which I regret' on social media. He told friends he was 'very sad it was ending this way' after 40 years in the job.

Mr Stewart and Martin Shapland, who is black, were debating the Royal Family's finances online when the news anchor cited a passage from Shakespeare's Measure for Measure that included the phrase 'angry ape'.

Mr Stewart wrote: 'But man, proud man, Dress'd in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd – His glassy essence – like an angry ape, Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven, As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens, Would all themselves laugh mortal.'

Describing Mr Stewart as a disgrace, Mr Shapland shared the tweet and said: 'Just an ITV newsreader referring to me as an ape.'

Speaking about what Mr Stewart said, Mrs Singh added: 'Do you go back and unpick the whole of literature? My God, it wasn't a quote from Enoch Powell, there are things that you know – 'no, don't do that'.

'I did English literature, I don't know it inside out, I suppose people are Googling Measure for Measure this morning to figure out exactly what this quote means, as far as I understand, was Shakespeare being racist when he wrote 'angry ape' or was he just saying in an Elizabethan era?'

Asked if she could see why it was offensive, she added: 'It's hard to stand in someone's shoes. I think that if you are angry with somebody and you're having a spat, I don't know what the thread said, I don't think any of us really know what that thread was actually about, we just have seen that one exchange.

Mrs Singh tweeted about Mr Stewart last night, saying she has 'adored' working with him

Mrs Singh tweeted about Mr Stewart last night, saying she has 'adored' working with him

'Is it OK to see things perhaps in that person's view perhaps he felt that but all I can say that that quote from Shakespeare in an Elizabethan era I think was probably meant about primitive behaviour - it wasn't about the colour.'

She added: 'I call my son a monkey all the time, come on you little monkey, get into bed. I'm not being racist to my son when I call him a monkey, right, but of course that's just my experience.

'I find it really unsettling to talk about this because he is my friend, Alastair is, and I feel sorry for him and I wish this hadn't happened but also I don't know who this guy is on Twitter and I don't know what his issue was with that and I feel sorry for Alastair and that's all I can really say and I just feel that, can you go back and unpick the whole of literature?'

Twitter users criticised Mrs Singh for her views as a 'woman of colour' and suggested she had put her friendship with Mr Stewart over the issue of racism

Twitter users criticised Mrs Singh for her views as a 'woman of colour' and suggested she had put her friendship with Mr Stewart over the issue of racism

Asked by Susanna Reid what the response to her posting a picture of her with Mr Stewart last night, she said: 'I don't always read everything on social media if I'm perfectly honest and perhaps the lesson is, or perhaps the learning, is I don't engage with members of the public in a confrontational way ever.

'I don't do it and I really don't tweet about race, I don't tweet about very much, I'm a bit rubbish on social media, and maybe that's a good thing, but I just think Alastair has engaged in taking people on who take him on in that arena and perhaps the learning is, I don't know what Alastair meant when he said it was a 'misjudgement' that he regrets – does he regret quoting that bit or does he regret just being drawn into a spat with a member of the public and actually I think perhaps I'll need to speak to him and find out what he meant by that.'

Martin Shapland (pictured) was in a debate with Mr Stewart on Twitter when the veteran newsreader quoted a passage from Shakespeare that included the words 'angry ape'

Martin Shapland (pictured) was in a debate with Mr Stewart on Twitter when the veteran newsreader quoted a passage from Shakespeare that included the words 'angry ape'

She added: 'He loves words, I have sat there – when he is trying to write the headlines, he pores over every word, he's very careful, he understands the emphasis, and I think perhaps he might be thinking 'gosh, maybe I should have re-read that quote and thought about it twice'. 

The Shakespeare quote at the heart of Alastair Stewart's social media rift

In a Twitter row Mr Stewart decided to quote a short passage from Measure by Measure by William Shakespeare.

The play was written in either 1603 or 1604 and is a dark comedy about a judge, Angelo, who leads the government in Vienna while the Duke is away.

The specific part Mr Stewart tweeted is a short speech by a character called Isabella, who has come to plead with Angelo for her brother's life after he is sentenced to die.

Angelo refuses her request, and in response to him she says:  'But man, proud man,

'Dress'd in a little brief authority,

'Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd—

'His glassy essence—like an angry ape

'Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven

'As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,

'Would all themselves laugh mortal'

Experts say Shakespeare's simile 'like an angry ape' used in Isabella's tirade at Angelo is to show his reversion to a human being's basic instincts such as

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