An art historian has been suspended as a speaker from the Arts Society after an off-the-cuff comment she made about Meghan Markle before giving a lecture.
Dr Anne Anderson, who has been lecturing for 28 years, was speaking to members of the Truro Arts Society before she gave a talk on Ikea and Scandinavian Design on 12 March, a few days after Meghan and Prince Harry's interview with Oprah Winfrey had aired.
Dr Anderson, 65, remarked to one of those who had joined the Zoom call: "You couldn’t turn the television on without some person of a colourful disposition having a moan about something."
She told Yahoo UK that two days later, she received an email saying she had been suspended from the Society's list of speakers because of a complaint over racist language.
She said: "With the new Zoom world that we live in, you forget you have got 30 or 40 people in your living room. Normally I would be in a village hall with 120 people and before the lecture I would be talking to a few friends - I would be able to correct anything I said.
"But you don't even see half the audience that is with you."
Dr Anderson has explained to The Times that she was referring to the language when she said "colourful disposition" and should have said "florid language".
She told Yahoo UK: "I got an email saying I had been suspended from the society, and I faced being de-accredited because I had made non-inclusive or racist remarks. I did not get the vibe that what I had said was any more contentious than anyone else who had been involved in the conversation - we were just chatting about Meghan Markle.
"I offered to apologise - I do not go out of my way to offend anyone."
But Dr Anderson says the offer to apologise was not passed onto the Truro branch, where she had been speaking, which she claims is against the usual procedure of The Arts Society.
Instead she went straight to a panel which included the two complainants, to explain her actions.
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She said: "It could have been dealt with within the society. I have a good relationship with most Art Societies, I have been working for them since 1994.
"What I'm really worried about is abuse of power.
"They have this caveat of 'bringing the society into disrepute'. The only person who decides that is the CEO.
"He was deciding my fate and I think it went too far. I don't think my crime fitted my punishment."
Dr Anderson voiced concerns that younger lecturers might not have been able to deal with the same situation.
She has now written letters of apology and agreed to go on a diversity training course, though commitments mean she has not yet been able to do this.
She also has to meet with a retired lecturer to discuss her "inappropriate behaviour" - which she says is even talking about Meghan at all, claiming the duchess is now a banned topic.
Dr Anderson said: "I will definitely be doing [the course] in the next week, I don't have any problem with it, and I know in the current climate it's a good thing to do."
She said she was still suspended from the speakers' list, despite the letters and the agreement to the follow-up course.
"I'm 65 and coming to the end of my career, but if this happened to a younger lecturer, to go through this, if you are starting out and your reputation and your livelihood is threatened...
"The avenues by which people in education make money are dwindling," she added.
Florian Schweizer, chief executive, The Arts Society said: "The Arts Society followed its complaints procedure after a complaint had been made against Dr Anne Anderson.
"The matter was resolved by following this procedure. We have no further comments on this matter."
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