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Iceland sack Director of Corporate Affairs who called Welsh language ‘gibberish’

17 Feb 2021 3 minute read
Iceland’s HQ in Deeside

One of Wales’ largest companies has sacked its Director of Corporate Affairs, who called the Welsh language “gibberish”.

Iceland, which is headquartered in Deeside, took the action following comments by Keith Hann, which set off a firestorm on social media, and led to calls for a boycott of the company, as well as for him to be sacked.

A spokesperson for the company has apologised for the “offence caused” by Hann’s remarks, reiterated that they do not “reflect” its values and said the dismissal will take “immediate effect”.

Keith Hann’s comments included 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.

‘Humorous intent’ 

Hann has blocked access to his personal blog, which is now open to invited readers only, as well as deleted his Twitter account. In a response to Nation.Cymru, he said his words were “written with humorous intent.”

When Iceland was asked on Twitter if it had sacked Hann yet, a spokesperson responded with: “Thanks for getting in touch. We have taken action in light of the comments made, resulting in the dismissal of Mr Hann with immediate effect.

“We’d like to reiterate that these comments in no way reflect the values of our business, and apologise for any upset caused.”

When Nation.Cymru initially 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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