The former Apprentice candidate Katie Hopkins has apologised after joking about life expectancy in Scotland the day after the fatal helicopter crash at the Clutha Vaults pub in Glasgow.
Hopkins tweeted on Saturday: “Life expectancy in Scotland based 07/08 birth is 59.5. Goodness me. That lot will do anything to avoid working until retirement.”
The comment caused outrage on social media, and led to a petition on change.org calling for her to be banned from appearing on TV.
Initially, Hopkins was defiant in the face of those who she had offended, and even posted a link to the petition herself, adding: “Please fell (sic) free to sign whatever it is that angry people are all aboard the Outrage Bus about today.” She signed the tweet: “xx”.
Hopkins insisted her comments were unrelated to the disaster a day earlier, when a police helicopter crashed into a busy pub and killed nine people, linking instead to an NHS report.
Yesterday, however, the controversial TV personality appeared to have backtracked, and replied to a number of users personally with messages saying: “I apologise to those I offended. It was poor timing.”
The petition against Hopkins in the wake of the tweet has now received more than 70,000 signatures online.
It reads: “On the 30th of November 2013, Scotland was still in shock and trying to come to terms with a horrible crash that took the lives of innocent people. Within 24 hours of this happening Katie Hopkins posted vile remarks on Twitter about how long the people of Scotland live for.
“This is unacceptable and distressing to those who lost friends and family.
“We the undersigned are sick and tired of ITV and Channel 5 giving her airtime and want her banned from all tv shows on your channels such as This Morning and The Wright Stuff.
“This woman is nothing more than an attention seeker who does not deserve to be a celebrity.”
Hopkins’ Twitter biography begins with the phrase “Telling it like it is”. Earlier this year, a 30ft effigy of her was burned at the Edenbridge bonfire in Kent, with the words “Speak before you think” written on the front.
She sparked controversy on This Morning when she said names including Chantelle, Charmaine, Chardonnay and Tyler were lower class.
Following that scandal, Hopkins published a 36-page book entitled The Class Book of Baby Names.
Last month, Hopkins also caused offence when she joked about 'carpet tacks' preventing 11-time Paralympic gold medallist Tanni Grey-Thompson from getting to the BBC studios.