Toby Young deletes thousands of tweets amid row over his universities regulator appointment

Ashley Cowburn

Right-wing commentator Toby Young has deleted thousands of tweets amid a row over his appointment to the Government’s new universities regulator.

It was announced last week that Mr Young, a writer for the Spectator magazine who helped establish several free schools, is to join the 15-strong board of the newly-created Office for Students (OfS).

But critics quickly questioned whether Mr Young had the expertise and experience for the job while others highlighted incendiary comments made by him on social media in the past.

On Tuesday, The Independent carried a series of comments from Mr Young on social media about the appearance of female MPs, one about visiting a bar full of “hardcore dykes” and another describing a gay celebrity as “queer as coot”.

And in one tweet, from 2011, he remarked on a session of Prime Minister’s Questions between David Cameron and Ed Miliband by saying: “That’s quite a clevage behind Ed M”.

In 2013, he responded to criticism of his previous comments by saying: “Women who display a lot of cleavage shouldn’t then complain when men notice them.”

The free school campaigner also commented on a photo of him next to a woman by joking that he “had my d*** up her a***.”

The Guardian reported Mr Young as saying he had “composed over 56,000 tweets” on Tuesday but the following day just 8,439 posts were available.

Labour has since demanded that Theresa May reverse his appointment because of what the party said was a history of “homophobia and misogyny” - claims Mr Young denies.

But Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, defended Mr Young’s role on the board of the new universities regulator, describing him as the “ideal man for the job”.

On his social media account Mr Johnson branded criticism over the appointment as a “ridiculous outcry”, adding that Mr Young would bring “independence, rigour and caustic wit” to the role.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Young said: “Given that defending free speech will one of the OfS’s priorities, there’s a certain irony in people saying I’m ‘unfit’ to serve on its board because of politically incorrect things I’ve said in the past.

“Some of those things have been sophomoric and silly – and I regret those – but some have been deliberately misinterpreted to try and paint me as a caricature of a heartless Tory toff.

“For the record, I’m a supporter of women’s rights and LGBT rights. Indeed, I was a supporter of gay marriage and debated Nigel Farage on the topic in public.”