Cathy Newman: Channel 4 calls in security experts following 'vicious abuse' over Jordan Peterson interview

Shehab Khan, Lucy Pasha-Robinson, Jon Sharman

Channel 4 has been forced to call in “security specialists” after a combative interview with a controversial Canadian psychologist spawned a series of online abuse and threats directed at presenter Cathy Newman.

Ms Newman grilled University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson, who has attracted a following from the far-right, on gender and equality, including his claims that the pay gap between men and women cannot solely be attributed to gender.

She was the target of a wide range of “vicious” comments and “misogynistic” threats following the exchange, leading to Channel 4 having to call in security specialists, according to the editor, Ben de Pear.

A cursory Twitter search revealed a series of messages directed at the presenter calling her a “b***h”, “c***” and “f***ing idiot”.

Mr De Pear said that the “level of vicious misogynistic abuse, nastiness, and threats” were an “unacceptable response” to the interview.

“Such is the scale of threat we are having to get security specialists in to carry out an analysis. I will not hesitate to get the police involved if necessary. What a terrible indictment of the times we live in,” he tweeted.

Ms Newman previously said she “thoroughly enjoyed” her bout with Prof Peterson, adding: “Viva feminism, viva free speech.”

Online abuse directed at female journalists has sparked demand for action after a series of high-profile incidents. Last year, the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, was assigned a security detail at the Labour party conference following threats she had received online.

Ms Kuenssberg spoke out against the abuse and said it was an attempt to try and silence her.

“No matter how unpleasant and personal it might be, it is not as bad as what other journalists face around the world in much more difficult circumstances,” she said.

Politicians have rallied around Ms Newman to give their support, including Labour MP Angela Rayner who criticised the “unacceptable” abuse.

Prof Peterson also defended the interviewer, writing on Twitter: “If you’re threatening her, stop. Try to be civilised in your criticism. It was words. Words, people, words. Remember those?”

In a statement, a Channel 4 News spokesperson said: “Following her interview with Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson broadcast earlier this week, our presenter Cathy Newman has been the target of unwarranted and unacceptable misogynistic abuse and threats.

“As journalists in the public eye, our presenters expect criticism, but we will not tolerate this level of abuse towards our staff. We have taken immediate steps to ensure Cathy’s safety and security and continue to offer her our full support on this matter.”