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UK: Outrage at Danny Dyer's 'sick' advice column in Zoo magazine

Publish Date: 06 May 2010
Source: The Guardian
By: Steve Busfield and Mark Sweney

Danny Dyer: Zoo magazine column told reader he should 'cut his ex's face'. Photograph: Tim Rooke/Rex Features

Publisher apologises and letter writer complains after celebrity agony uncle Danny Dyer tells him he should 'cut his ex's face'

Celebrity agony uncle Danny Dyer provoked outrage yesterday when he told Zoo magazine readers that a heartbroken boyfriend should "cut his ex's face, so no one will want her".

Dyer's reply was published in the latest edition of the weekly lads' magazine in response to a letter from a 23-year-old reader – "Alex, Manchester" – asking for advice on how to get over his split from his girlfriend.

The actor and TV presenter said in his Ask Danny column: "You've got nothing to worry about, son. I'd suggest going out on a rampage with the boys, getting on the booze and smashing anything that moves. Then, when some bird falls for you, you can turn the tables and break her heart. Of course, the other option is to cut your ex's face, and then no one will want her."

Dyer's advice brought an instant backlash on Twitter and was condemned by several groups that campaign to stop violence against women.

A spokeswoman for Zoo's publisher, Bauer Media, said: "Due to an extremely regrettable production error, an inappropriate and indefensible response to a letter has appeared in this week's issue. Zoo editor Tom Etherington apologises unreservedly for any offence the response may have caused and has launched an internal inquiry to ensure lessons are learnt. Zoo and Danny Dyer condemn any violence against women. A donation will be made to Women's Aid."

Dyer, who has presented a number of TV shows and featured in nearly 30 films, told the Sun he was misquoted. "This is totally out of order, I am totally devastated. I have been completely misquoted. This is not the advice I would give any member of the public. I do not condone violence against women."

It is understood that Dyer's weekly advice column is dictated over the phone to a member of the magazine's staff.

Alex Woolliscroft, who wrote the letter to Dyer's column, told the Guardian he was seeking an apology. "It does change my view of the magazine for printing it and the man. I did it because I wanted some advice. His advice was a bit sick. I was with the girl for a year and would never think about trying to hurt her," he said.

Nicki Norman, a spokeswoman for Women's Aid, said: "Two women are killed every week by a current or former partner and thousands are repeatedly physically, emotionally and financially abused on a daily basis. Such a blase, insensitive comment can actually place women and children at real risk of harm." Ceri Goddard, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, added: "I can only assume that Dyer though he was being ironic. But I would like him to explain that to a woman who is a victim of violence. I am worried that this does show an attitude that jokes about violence against women are fair game."

Holly Dustin, manager of the End Violence Against Women coalition, called on Zoo to publish a "prominent retraction and tell its readers what its stance is on violence against women".

Zoo had a weekly circulation of 102,043 in the second half of 2009, a year-on-year fall of almost 30%.

Dyer's advice has previously included such thoughts as this to a reader who complained about his girlfriend's pubic hair: "Maybe set light to the muff hair. That stuff goes up quick, like a thatched roof." © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011