Iceland supermarket director Keith Hann sacked after Welsh language comments

A director at the Iceland supermarket chain has been dismissed with immediate effect following controversial comments he made about Wales and the Welsh language.The supermarket was forced to apologise after reports emerged of Keith Hann labelling the Welsh language “gibberish”.

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

Reiterating that the comments did not align with the company's views, a spokeswoman today confirmed that Mr Hann had been dismissed with immediate effect.The statement by Mr Hann was made in a personal blog which has now been privatised. In the same blog, it is alleged he also said that the Welsh language sounded “like someone with bad catarrh clearing his throat”.

The chain had been forced to apologise after a now-deleted tweet by Mr Hann reportedly said “inhabitants of the UK’s Celtic fringe loathe all visitors”, referring to people travelling to Wales.

Mr Hann's Twitter account has now been locked and a line saying "All views my own and usually joking" has been added to his bio. This was not in place at the time the comments were shared.This is not the first time Mr Hann has been criticised for his views on the Welsh language and Wales generally.In June 2019 he 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 a blog post written on September 17 2014, he said that in Wales “the supermarket signage” was “incomprehensible” and kids were educated in a “dead language that sounds uncannily like someone with bad catarrh clearing his throat”.In another blog post, he regrets the fact that his house is not far from the Welsh border: “I regret to say that we are also only about two miles from Wales, thanks to the border lurching east from the natural boundary of the River Dee, and taking a bite out of Englandthat can only have been designed for the convenience of manufacturers of jigsaw puzzles."He also added that if he moved over the border that his son “would be having part of his education conducted in gibberish”.Pressure had been mounting on the supermarket giant to take action after Mr Hanns's comments prompted hoppers to say they would be boycotting the company.Iceland has more than 1,000 shops across the UK, and is headquartered in Deeside.A spokeswoman for Iceland said: “Iceland has taken action in light of recent comments made by its Director of Corporate Affairs, resulting in the dismissal of Mr Hann with immediate effect."We would like to reiterate that these comments in no way reflect the values or philosophy of our business. We are a proud Welsh company, with a long history of investment in communities."