“During the interview, I used the phrase ‘so many damn blacks’. It was intended to emphasise – in hindsight with awful clumsiness – the numbers who survived the horrors of the slave trade. Instead, it came across as a term of racial abuse. This, in the present atmosphere, where passions are high and feelings raw, was deplorably inflammatory.
“It was a bad mistake. I am very sorry for it and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it caused. I have also paid a heavy price for one offensive word with the loss of every distinction and honour acquired in a long career.