Now broadcaster told to say sorry over 'vermin' comment

ALAN JONES has been forced to say sorry for the second time this week after a tribunal ruled yesterday that he must apologise on air for calling Lebanese Muslims ''vermin'' before the Cronulla riots seven years ago.

The setback for the besieged radio personality came as Tony Abbott stepped up his criticism of Jones's remarks about Julia Gillard's late father and sponsors continued to desert him.

The Opposition Leader's condemnation came as Jones took to the airwaves yesterday to admit he was wrong to insult the Prime Minister but also to claim that people were out to destroy him and other media were jealous of his success.

His day failed to improve when, in an unrelated matter, the Administrative Decisions Tribunal ruled against an appeal by Jones and ordered he apologise on air and in writing for vilifying Muslims.

Jones had called Sydney's Lebanese Muslims ''vermin'' who ''infest our shores'' and ''rape and pillage our nation''.

Keysar Trad, the Islamic community leader who brought the complaint against Jones, welcomed the ruling and said he hoped Jones's apology was more genuine than the heavily qualified apology he offered to Julia Gillard.

It is not clear when Jones will make the apology.

Jones was secretly recorded 11 days ago telling a Sydney University Liberal Club function that Ms Gillard's father, John, who died recently after long battle with illness, had really died of shame because of his daughter's lies.

At the same function, a jacket made from a chaff bag was signed by Jones and auctioned. He has previously said on radio Ms Gillard should be put in a chaff bag and dumped at sea.

Multiple sponsors have withdrawn their advertising from Jones's program and a cavalcade of government ministers have lined up to demand Jones be sacked and to blame Mr Abbott by claiming he had created the culture of personal abuse that gave the green light to the conservative commentators to say such things.

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said that given Mr Abbott was ''the most aggressive and abusive leader in our history, it's little wonder that people like Mr Jones feel free to fill our airwaves with his poison''.

Mr Abbott dismissed the claims, saying ''the government blames me for everything''.

He said Jones's comments were ''wrong, unacceptable, offensive'' and that he was ''shocked and dismayed'' when he read about them.

But he would continue to be a guest on his program. ''I am not in the business of ignoring a big audience,'' he said.

The NSW Labor MP Mike Kelly outraged Jones's conservative supporters when he tweeted:

''The criticism of Alan Jones shouldn't descend into obscene abuse or denigration of his homosexuality. He deserves to b taken off air though.''

As Mr Abbott criticised Jones's comments, his frontbencher Bronwyn Bishop rang Jones on air to support him.

''Very simply, this is now being beaten into an entirely separate agenda which has got nothing to do with the remarks or the apology that you made,'' Ms Bishop told him.

The media magnate Kerry Stokes also rang in to offer support.

The former prime minister Kevin Rudd added his voice to the condemnation and attempts to implicate Mr Abbott.

''Mr Abbott has to show some leadership and turf this bloke out of his party and make sure his party has nothing to do with him in the future,'' he said.

''These are the core tests of Mr Abbott's leadership. So far that is what he is failing to do.''

The story Now broadcaster told to say sorry over 'vermin' comment first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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