Cornwall lecturer suspended after Meghan Markle comment

Anne Anderson's charges were dismissed, but she has been suspended. Credit: BPM Media

A Cornwall art lecturer has been suspended after she was accused of making a racist comment about Meghan Markle.

Anne Anderson, 64, was about to start a lecture over Zoom called 'How we got Ikea: Scandinavian Design 1880-1960' with members of The Arts Society Truro.

But during an informal chat before the session, she allegedly made a reference to "the dreaded Meghan".

Speaking about Duchess' explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, Dr Anderson reportedly said: "You couldn’t turn the television on without some person of a colourful disposition having a moan about something."

Meghan Markle Credit: PA

An honorary associate professor at the University of Exeter, she was subsequently cleared of making racist comments but is still suspended from the Arts Society for "inappropriate comments and conduct".

Dr Anderson said it all started when she mentioned Meghan and Prince Harry's interview, and how she lost several lecture viewers on the night it aired.

"That's how the topic turned up," she explained. "I didn't think much of it."

Two days later, Dr Anderson was removed from The Arts Society's directory for using “racist” language.

"I got an email saying I was suspended and also that they had suspended my accreditation as a lecturer," she said. "They also demanded a copy of the video."

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On 15 April, she attended a disciplinary panel.

"We had a viewing of the video with my two complainants," Dr Anderson said. "Over an hour, they grilled me extensively. They thought Meghan Markle was an inappropriate topic."

Dr Anderson said her "colourful" comment was not racism, but a misuse of language. She said she was talking about Meghan Markle's language and should have used the words "florid" and "language".

"I regret saying them because they have been taken out of context and misinterpreted," she said.

"There's a danger of how relaxed you can be on a Zoom call in your home. People know I'm dyslexic and I always put my foot in it."

The panel dismissed the charge that the comments were racist due to insufficient evidence, however it agreed that they could be interpreted as racist.

The panel stated the comments and Dr Anderson's role in the discussion about Meghan Markle were "inappropriate" and could "bring The Arts Society into disrepute".

"I've spent £2,500 on the witness statement," Dr Anderson added. "I'm significantly out of pocket."

The panel asked Dr Anderson to attend an equality and diversity training course to discuss with a retired Arts Society accredited lecturer about appropriate behaviour and to write several apologies to the complainants and The Arts Society Truro.

"I'm still suspended," Dr Anderson said. "I can't see myself ever being reinstated after the articles in the Mail on Sunday and the Times."

She said she has already written the apologies and is now waiting to have an interview with a retired lecturer.

Dr Anderson said she has received messages of support saying that the accusations are "ridiculous" and that the lecture had not started when the comments were made.

The lecturer is now keen to reveal "the dangers of Zoom".

"Zoom has changed everything," she explained. "You sort of forget you're in your workplace when you're in your living room."

Florian Schweizer, chief executive of The Arts Society, told Yahoo UK: "The Arts Society followed its complaints procedure after a complaint had been made against Dr Anne Anderson.

"The matter was resolved by following this procedure. We have no further comments on this matter."

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