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Row over Desmond role

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-05-26

Richard Desmond

Richard Desmond

A row has erupted among some sections of the Jewish community following the recent announcement that media owner Richard Desmond is to become the president of Jewish children's and family welfare charity Norwood.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, there is split between those who value the role Desmond will play while others have voiced concern over some of Desmond's media interests which include a number of adult entertainment TV channels.

His print publications include the Daily and Sunday Express newspapers as well as OK and New magazines.

"He is very successful. We should do everything we can to get successful Jews involved in the community. He will encourage others to be involved," current president and automobile industry mogul Sir Trevor Chinn told the Jewish Chronicle. "It is not for me to make a judgment [on his business]. It is legitimate and lawful. These activities [adult TV] are marginal."

Electrical retailer millionaire Sir Stanley Kalms said of Desmond's appointment as "a first-class choice".

According to Norwood, Desmond has been a strong supporter of the charity for over 20 years and in 2004 gave a donation of over £1m to support a new school and learning centre in Bushey, Hertfordshire.

When his appointment was announced last week, Desmond said: "I am thrilled to accept the appointment as the next president of Norwood which is known for its vision, drive and energy - core values which I share and I intend to take a hands-on approach in my new role. My primary focus will be to re-invigorate Norwood’s donor base by encouraging younger supporters to come on board."

Despite his involvement and wish to take a central role in supporting Norwood, a number of people have raised their concerns.

"I would never want anybody who makes money from porn, and putting down women in many ways, taking a responsible role in the community," offered June Jacobs, life president of Jewish Child’s Day while Rosalind Preston, former president of the National Council of Women of Great Britain added: "I think it was a strange appointment because of what I know about his reputation nationally."

Norwood remains committed to its appointment of Desmond. "When Trevor Chinn said he felt it was time to step down, Richard Desmond’s name was put up. The board of trustees were unanimous in their backing," said Norwood chairman Michael Teacher.

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