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Iceland apologise for ‘offence caused’ by Director of Corporate Affairs calling Welsh language ‘gibberish’

15 Feb 2021 3 minutes Read
Iceland’s HQ in Deeside

One of Wales’ largest companies has apologised for the “offence” caused after its Director of Corporate Affairs labelled the Welsh language “gibberish”.

Iceland, which is headquartered in Deeside in Wales, insisted that a series of statements made by Keith Hann did not “reflect” the company’s views.

These include a deleted a tweet suggesting that the “inhabitants of the UK’s Celtic fringe loathe all visitors” as well as comments on his personal blog saying that the Welsh language was “like someone with bad catarrh clearing his throat”.

In June 2019 he also said that “I’d like to say that I have never left England, but regular attendance at an office about 800 yards inside Wales sadly precludes this.

“Still, I take pride in never visiting Scotland despite having a home within sight of the border.”

In other tweets in October 2020 he suggested that lockdown would be a “bonus” if it stopped him “travelling from home in Cheshire to my office in Wales every day” and that the Welsh wear “woad” rather than clothes.

‘Boycott’

There have been calls to boycott the company as well as demands for Hann to be sacked.

The company issued the apology after it came under fire from people on social media who are angry about the remarks.

Vaughan Williams said: “This is shocking, @IcelandFoods from your Director of Corporate Affairs @keithhann! Insulting Welsh language and Wales itself. I’ve always felt loyal to the company being a former employee but will be boycotting you along with friends and family. What next steps will you take?”

A spokesperson on behalf of Iceland tweeted: “Hi, thank you for getting in touch. We’re sorry to hear this feedback and completely understand. Please be assured that the comments you refer to do not reflect the views of Iceland as a company, and were not made on Iceland’s behalf. We apologise for any upset or offence caused.”

Nation.Cymru contacted Iceland for comment. Keith Hann responded personally to say: “Iceland is proud to be one of the largest companies based in Wales, and a major investor and employer in the country.

“All of the tweets and press articles you have cited were written by me in a personal capacity and are not endorsed by Iceland Foods or reflective of the company’s views.

“I would have hoped it was also obvious that all of these were written with humorous intent.”

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