TalkSport fires Gaunt for 'Nazi' remark

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The Independent Online

Jon Gaunt, the reactionary shock jock and columnist for The Sun, has been dismissed from his job at the commercial radio station TalkSport.

The firing follows an internal investigation by the network into an on-air exchange in which Gaunt described a local councillor as a "Nazi" for supporting a smoking ban on foster parents. The dismissal follows TalkSport's axing of James Whale earlier this year, after he breached broadcasting standards on political neutrality by urging listeners in London to vote for Boris Johnson in the run up to the city's mayoral election.

The decision to sack Gaunt was overseen by one of his oldest friends Moz Dee, TalkSport's programme director and the man who gave him his break in broadcasting.

Speaking to The Independent earlier this year, Gaunt recalled how in the early 1990s he had been disillusioned after being declared bankrupt, following the collapse of Tic Toc, a theatre company he had established in his home city of Coventry. "I spent six months doing nothing, staying in bed until about noon, having a bath for about three hours, then sitting around, drinking cheap lager," he said

After reaching down the back of the sofa to gather loose change, Gaunt and his wife, Lisa, went into the centre of Coventry, where they met Dee, an old friend from Gaunt's theatre days. An impassioned outburst from Gaunt on the circumstances he found himself in led Dee to believe he might have a future in radio. Dee offered him a trial at BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, the station where he worked. Gaunt began in 1993, aged 31, and recalled of that time: "Moz told me, 'Just say something opinionated or controversial. Then the old dears phone up and you either put the phone down or flirt with them'."

Gaunt arrived at TalkSport in May 2006, turning his morning show into an angry tirade against what he saw as a political and media elite. He was reunited with Dee, who had risen to become a senior executive on BBC Radio 5 Live, early this year when his old friend took the senior programming role at TalkSport.

The presenter was suspended on 7 November after an argument with a Redbridge councillor, Michael Stark, over council plans to prevent smokers from fostering children. In an article on the same issue in his Sun column the same day, Gaunt made references to "health and safety Nazis" and a "master race philosophy".

TalkSport listeners complained in significant numbers about the exchange, which came two days before Remembrance Sunday.

Dee and his senior colleagues took the view that the latest outburst was indefensible and staff were told yesterday morning that Gaunt would not be returning to work.

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