US Ambassador Woody Johnson denies making racist and sexist comments

22 July 2020, 23:57

US Ambassador Woody Johnson (pictured with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo) has been accused of making racist and sexist comments
US Ambassador Woody Johnson (pictured with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo) has been accused of making racist and sexist comments. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The US Ambassador the UK has denied making racist and sexist comments to staff.

Woody Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune and owner of the New York Jets, has held the position as Ambassador since August 2017.

Sources have told CNN that in 2018, Mr Johnson questioned why black people celebrate Black History Month, and later asked if an event he was attending would be a "whole bunch of black people".

A unnamed diplomat told the news service that Mr Johnson's comments were being proved by the Office of Inspector General investigators.

They added: "He's said some pretty sexist, racist, things".

He is also accused of arguing the "real challenge" was black fathers not staying with their families, supposedly leaving staff who heard his comments "stunned".

Mr Johnson has also allegedly made "cringeworthy" comments on women's looks, including in October 2017 during an Estee Lauder-sponsored breast cancer event.

He reportedly said: "There was a prettier crowd here a few days ago with the ladies in pink and the breast cancer people."

Mr Johnson also started his time in the position holding meetings in a male-only private club, but was eventually told in late 2018 that this was not appropriate as female diplomats were not permitted to join.

In a statement on Twitter, Mr Johnson said: "I have followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times.

"These false claims of insensitive remarks about race and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values."

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