Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

I'm sorry to say... a year of apologies

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The past year has been a good, though rather eclectic, year for apologies. All the usuals are in there: politicians, sports personalities, religious leaders and, of course, the odd errant husband.


Kate Winslet at the Golden Globes
Sorry... what's her name?

The year kicked off amid the glitz and glamour of the Golden Globe awards in Los Angeles.

Actress Kate Winslet ended her losing streak by winning two gongs: for best supporting actress in The Reader, and for best actress in Revolutionary Road. Winslet's emotional acceptance speech immediately ensured its place in the gallery of YouTube classics, when she tried to apologise to her fellow nominees.

In a flurry of delight and emotion Kate said: "I'm so sorry Anne (Hathaway), Meryl (Streep), Kristin (Scott-Thomas) oh God, who is the other one?" she gasped. "Oh yes, Angelina (Jolie)... OK… Compose... Now forgive me... Gather... Is this really happening?"

Indeed it was, Kate.


US swimmer Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, made an apology to fans , saying: "I engaged in behaviour which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment".

The statement came after Phelps was photographed at a party inhaling from a glass pipe known as a bong, an instrument generally used for smoking marijuana. The swimmer acknowledged the photo was authentic but did not actually admit to smoking marijuana.


Bernie Madoff
Unable to adequately express his sorrow

In New York, disgraced financier Bernard Madoff spoke in public for the first time since his arrest. The man behind one of the largest fraud schemes in history told a Manhattan court that he was "so deeply sorry and ashamed".

He pleaded guilty to 11 felonies ranging from wire fraud and money laundering to stealing from pension plans and making false filings to the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Madoff went on to say: "I am painfully aware I have deeply hurt many, many people... I cannot adequately express how deeply sorry I am for what I have done."

He was later convicted on all counts and given the maximum jail sentence of 150 years.


German football team Energie Cottbus announced it would refund 600 supporters the admission price of a recent away game.

The fans travelled 610km from Lausitz to Gelsenkirchen to see their players beaten 4-0 by the Schalke team. It was Energie Cottbus's sixth loss in seven games.

A statement on the club's website said: "By refunding the cost of admission for their supporters, the red and whites would like to apologise for the pitiful performance which they displayed at the Veltins Arena".

Could this "no win, no fee" approach possibly catch on with other clubs?

St Peter"s Basilica at the Vatican
An apology from the Pope to Canada's Native Indians

Later in the month, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his "sorrow and anguish" for the abuse suffered by generations of Native Indian children at Catholic boarding schools across Canada.

From the late 19th Century until the 1970s, an estimated 150,000 children were forcibly sent to church-run schools in an effort to assimilate them, in line with then government policy. Many of them suffered physical and sexual abuse.


In London, Gordon Brown apologised on behalf of all Britain's politicians over the MPs' expenses scandal that tarnished the reputation of Britain's Parliament and its mainstream political parties.

After several days of half-hearted excuses, senior politicians lined up to say sorry as they came to terms with public anger over the exploitation of the parliamentary allowances system.

Leaked details of more than one million receipts submitted by MPs had been published over several weeks by the Daily Telegraph newspaper, listing claims for expenses ranging from dog food to the cleaning of a moat.

High Street giant Marks & Spencer decided to drop its unpopular policy of charging higher prices for larger size bras. The company did this by launching a national press advertising campaign with the slogan "we boobed".


Gordon Ramsay: I was having a "tongue-in-cheek joke"

In Melbourne, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was prompted by his mother to apologise , after making insulting remarks about TV host Tracy Grimshaw.

At a food and wine event, Mr Ramsay had shown an image of a nude woman on all fours with a pig's face and likened the image to Ms Grimshaw.

A shocked Ms Grimshaw described Mr Ramsay on her show as "an arrogant narcissist" and "a bully", while Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Ramsay's remarks reflected "a new form of low life".


At Wimbledon, US sixth seed Andy Roddick said "I am sorry" to a deflated centre court crowd after beating third seed Andy Murray from Scotland in four-sets in a semi-final match. Although Roddick had won the match he had never won over the crowd.


August was a slow month for apologies. However, there was this surprising one from the US.

Lt William Calley, a former army officer who was convicted for his part in the notorious My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, offered his first public apology.

"There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened," he was quoted as saying by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

Mr Calley, now 66, was convicted on 22 counts of murder for the 1968 massacre of 500 men, women and children in Vietnam. He was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killings but his sentence was commuted to three years' house arrest by the then US President, Richard Nixon.


Serena Williams (right) talks to US Open referee Brian Earley and Grand Slam supervisor Donna Kelso
A foot-fall call, an outburst and an apology

In New York, world Number One tennis player Serena Williams issued an apology after an outburst towards a line judge during a US Open semi-final against Kim Clijsters.

The tirade, which followed a foot-fall call, cost her a $10,000 (£6,000) fine.

Williams' initial statement did not contain a straight apology, although she admitted that her "passion and emotion" had got the better of her, and said she had "handled the situation poorly".

Kanye West and Taylor Swift
So rudely interrupted...

Staying in New York, rap star Kanye West apologised for interrupting the acceptance speech of singer Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards.

As Swift was collecting the award for best video by a female artist, West jumped on to the stage saying "Taylor, I'm really happy for you… but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time." The audience jeered.

Later, West wrote on his blog: "I'm soooo sorry to Taylor Swift, her fans and her mom ... I spoke to her mother right after and she said the same thing my mother would've said."

Meanwhile, at FIA headquarters in Paris, Formula 1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr apologised for his role in a race-fixing scandal.

"I bitterly regret my actions to follow the orders I was given," Piquet Jr said. "I wish every day that I had not done it."


In New York, CBS chat show host David Letterman made an on-air apology to his wife after admitting sexual relationships with female members of his staff. Mr Letterman revealed he had been the victim of a blackmail threat. He vowed to mend his relationship with his wife.

Addressing the issue with a mix of comedy and seriousness, the 62-year-old host joked: "I got into the car this morning and the navigation lady wasn't speaking to me. Ouch." But he also said: "If you hurt a person, it's your responsibility, you try to fix it."

Maria Shriver and Governor Schwarzenegger
Schwarzenegger promised "swift action"

In California, Maria Shriver, wife of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger apologised for driving while using a hand-held mobile phone.

In 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger oversaw the introduction of state law which requires that motorists should use hands-free mobile sets if needed while driving.

Responding via Twitter to pictures published on a celebrity website of his wife breaking the law, Mr Schwarzenegger said: "Thanks for bringing her violations to my attention. There is going to be swift action."

Ms Shriver issued a statement on her website apologising and explaining that she would be donating her "favourite old cell phone" to a charity.


Kevin Rudd: "A spirit that has stubbornly refused to be beaten"

At a ceremony in Canberra, Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a state apology to 500,000 people known as the "Forgotten Australians". As children they were neglected or abused in orphanages and children's homes around the country.

Mr Rudd said: "Sorry for the tragedy - the absolute tragedy - of childhoods lost."

The prime minister also made particular mention of the many thousands of British children who had been shipped out to Australia after World War II, supposedly to begin better lives.

Software giant Google apologised to Michelle Obama after a racially offensive image was posted on the website.

Google placed an "offensive search result" notice over the picture. The company said: "Sometimes our search results can be offensive. We agree."


In Florida, golf star Tiger Woods apologised to his family , amid continued speculation about his private life.

Elin and Tiger Woods, Sept 2009
Woods said he had let his wife and family down

The 14-time major champion has been married to his Swedish wife Elin for five years. They have two young children.

In a statement, Woods said "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart … I have not been true to my values and the behaviour my family deserves."

The golfer also offered a "profound apology" to his supporters.

That's our selection of apologies for another year. Maybe some of this year's "contributors" will make it in again next year - but how? That's what we will all be looking out for.

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