"I apologise...if" not acceptable

January 5, 2012

Another year, another apology. This time it is the turn of Phil Parkinson, a Brit living in the United Arab Emirates, whose advertisement for his gym in Dubai featured a picture of the entrance to Auschwitz and the caption "Kiss your calories goodbye."

Almost as jaw-dropping as the repellent concept itself is Mr Parkinson's slimy excuse: he used the image, he said, because his gym programme was "like a calorie concentration camp." When it was pointed out that his advertising campaign was beyond inappropriate, Mr Parkinson took refuge in the 21st century version of an apology: "I apologise if I have offended anyone with the campaign. That was certainly not my intention when we created it."

That is no apology. Rather, it is: "Oh, dear, I'm sorry somebody noticed." We have heard similar weaselly responses in recent weeks from MPs Paul Flynn and Aidan Burley, who each, in their own way, managed to cause maximum offence and then appear baffled that anyone had been hurt by their behaviour.

Frankly, we are sick of such lamentable and clearly not genuine apologies. Parkinson, Flynn and Burley were all only sorry because they were found out. "I'm sorry if what I did caused offence" is fast becoming the last refuge of scoundrels.

Last updated: 2:52pm, January 6 2012