Starkey has since apologised "unreservedly for the offence" caused by his interviewReasoned/YouTube

Content note: This article contains detailed description of the use of racist language

Historian Dr David Starkey has issued an apology today for “racist” comments he made last week, stating that his comments were “deeply inflammatory” and “a bad mistake”.

However, Starkey’s apology has been described as “almost as bad as his original remarks” by Dr Nicholas Guyatt, Reader in North American History at Jesus College, Cambridge.

Starkey, who was appointed an Honorary Fellow at Fitzwilliam College in 2006, continued: “I am very sorry for it and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it caused. I have also paid a heavy price for one offensive word with the loss of every distinction and honour acquired in a long career.”

The apology pertains to comments made in an interview with Reasoned, in which Starkey argued: “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain would there?”.

In his apology, Starkey insists that the “so many damn blacks” phrase “was intended to emphasise - in hindsight with awful clumsiness - the numbers who survived the horrors of the slave trade. Instead, it came across as a term of racial abuse. This, in the present atmosphere, where passions are high and feelings raw, was deplorably inflammatory.”

His initial interview made multiple other racist comments including stating, “Of course, slavery was not the same as the Holocaust.” The interview was described by former chancellor Sajid Javid as “a reminder of the appalling views that still exist” in Britain.

Starkey resigned from his Fitzwilliam fellowship last Friday (03/06), after the College announced that his position would be “considered” at a Governing Body meeting.

In today’s apology, Starkey claims that there has been a “misunderstanding” of his choice of words. He added that his “principal regret” was that his “blundering use of language” would “further restrict the opportunities for proper debate.”

History Reader Guyatt argues that Starkey’s statement is “the narrowest possible apology which insists that he was misunderstood, and that he lost everything he spent an entire career amassing due to ‘one word.’.”

Guyatt lists several remarks made by Starkey to insist the historian’s “claim that one misplaced word has ended his otherwise unblemished career is outrageous”.

In the Reasoned interview, Starkey argued “You cannot decolonise the curriculum because you, Black Lives Matter, are wholly and entirely a product of white colonisation. You are not culturally Black Africans. You would die in seconds if you were dumped back in black Africa.”

He also said that Black people in Britain “borrow from America” in “formal politics, lifestyle, dress, music, the whole ‘gangster culture’”.

This follows earlier comments made by Starkey. After a series of riots in British cities in 2011, Starkey argued, about the protestors, that “the whites have become black. A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion.”

In 2013, Starkey also criticised the depiction of Mary Seacole in school history curriculums, claiming that she was included “on the basis of no evidence whatsoever” in order to appease “current political concerns”.

These comments contributed to calls to rescind his Honorary Fellowship.

Last week, Fitzwilliam’s JCR Committee called on the College to apologise for not removing Starkey from his role earlier, accusing the College of “nearly a decade of inaction”.

Cambridge BME Campaign also called on the College to “apologise for refusing” to cut ties with Starkey sooner, “despite the protests of its own students and staff”.

The College did not respond to Varsity’s enquiry on whether an apology would be issued.

The College described Starkey’s most recent comments as “indefensible”, but have not commented on their decision to not remove his fellowship sooner.

A statement released by the College last Friday (03/07), whilst stating “we do not tolerate racism” and insisting that “Honorary Fellows have the same responsibility as all members of our College to uphold our values”, did not respond to the JCR’s request to apologise.

Debates about David Starkey’s former Fellowship coincides with the announcement that Wolfson College is “considering” Carrie Lam’s position as an Honorary Fellow.