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Sky News host Peta Credlin apologised for the second time in 18 months to Victoria’s South Sudanese community. Photo SKY NEWS


Sky News host Peta Credlin has issued a lengthy on-air apology to Victoria’s South Sudanese community after anger about a program in which she falsely blamed them for a Melbourne COVID-19 outbreak last year.

The former government advisor issued the four-minute apology last Friday night, describing her previous comments as “factually wrong,” error-strewn and apologising for the hurt and offence she caused.

It’s the second time Credlin has apologised to Victoria’s South Sudanese community since she made the comments last year.

“In June last year, while commenting on the COVID-19 pandemic, the escalation of new infections in Victoria, and various public health measures, I incorrectly linked the South Sudanese community to a cluster of cases that had developed following an end-of-Ramadan dinner in Melbourne’s northern suburbs,” Credlin told viewers. “This was factually wrong, and I again deeply regret the error. On the basis of that error, I made various other statements that I accept have caused genuine hurt and offence to South Sudanese community members. It was not my intention.”

Credlin also clarified the South Sudanese community was not involved with the end-of-Ramadan cluster. “More than 93 per cent of South Sudanese born members of the community are Christian, not Muslim,” she said.

“The South Sudanese community were not making excuses and to the best of their ability members of the community were educating each other, maintaining social distancing, changing their cultural practices and doing what was required,” she said.

“My statements were understood to mean that the South Sudanese community had been reckless, irresponsible, or even deliberate, in breaching social distancing requirements, that the community had failed to adapt its cultural practices like other Australians, and that this was putting Australians at risk. I do not believe there was any truth to those inferences,” Credlin said.

Credlin’s first apology came three days after the offending program went to air, but it was criticised by the Society of South Sudanese Professionals as a “serious assault” on the community. The second apology was prompted by different concerns raised after meeting with the South Sudanese community. Credlin said on Friday the first apology was “too limited” and had caused further offence.

Sky News will run stories in coming months to highlight the positive contributions South Sudanese Victorians make to the broader community, she said.

Credlin apologised on air to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in February for saying his petition calling for a royal commission into the Murdoch media was a “data harvesting exercise”. The apology was part of a confidential defamation settlement.

An Australian News Channel spokesperson said the apology was made following an agreement with the South Sudanese community.

“Australian News Channel and Peta Credlin issued an apology over remarks concerning the South Sudanese community in June 2020 soon after the segment went to air,” a spokesperson said.

“Following a separate and more recent complaint over the same broadcast, Sky News and Peta Credlin engaged in extensive consultation with other South Sudanese community members. Peta Credlin made a further apology on last Friday’s episode of Credlin as soon as agreement was reached.” - Zoe Samios, WAtoday

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