Grace Dent has news for her Twitter troll

Grace Dent tweet

UPDATE – So the day after the Twitter furore involving Grace Dent comes news of her new role at The Independent. Coincidence or PR stunt?

Many seem to be asking that question today. Some are saying well done to Dent who looks like a great addition for the Independent while others are expressing disappointment.

The Guardian TV critic Dent, who writes a weekly TV review column for the Saturday Guardian’s Guide, will work across the Independent and its sister title the London Evening Standard for which she already writes a restaurant review column.

Chris Blackhurst, group editorial director at the Indy and the Standard revealed Dent’s hiring in his “letter from the editor” earlier today where he also explained the rationale for the Indy’s cover price rise to £1.20.

From Monday – When Mufadal Jiwaji sent TV critic Grace Dent an insulting tweet during her appearance on Sunday night’s Have I Got News For You he probably thought it was a throwaway witty comment which might amuse his handful of followers.

He didn’t realise that she was a client of the PR firm he works for and that it could end up losing him his job.

He commented, “@gracedent reminds me of a girlfriend I once had. By girlfriend I mean that time I accidentally made love to an ugly abhorrent horse.” And while it was written in better English than most trolling comments, it was just as unfunny to the person on the receiving end.

It comes at a time when people are biting back against this sort of online abuse.

Noel Edmonds, for example, is calling for more online responsibility after meeting the student who set up a Facebook page called ‘Somebody please kill Noel Edmonds’.

In his BBC Three programme The Anti-Social Network, Richard Bacon revealed that he and his family have been subject to a torrent of anonymous online abuse from a particular individual for the last two years.

And articles such as “You should have your tongue ripped out”: the reality of sexist abuse online and follow-up pieces in the Guardian and blogs including Shiraz Socialist and Too Much To Say For Myself reveal that female journalists and bloggers are too often at the receiving end of nasty misogynist comments.

With 112K followers I don’t know how much of this sort of abuse Dent has to put up with herself, but something led her to take a moment to look this guy up and find out who is. And she discovered that he works for PR firm Hill+Knowlton, of whom she is a client. Cue massive climbdown from Jiwaji.

Grace Dent tweets

@gracedent: “I’m wondering, as a public relations person for a firm I work with, what your thinking was in sending me this message?

@mufadal: “it was naive and ill-warranted. I won’t delete it, as I ought to bare the full brunt of my idiocy.” [Not such great English]

@gracedent: “You’ll bear the brunt of your idiocy at 10am tomorrow morning when you’re unemployed. Good luck.”

So should Jiwaji keep his job? On one hand, it was a throwaway, off-duty remark. On the other…well would you feel happy if one of your staff was sending abuse to one of your clients? As someone on the graduate scheme at Hill+Knowlton, if he didn’t know much about PR before he’s about to get a good lesson…