Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008 19:01 UK

Paxman slammed over Burns comment

Jeremy paxman
Mr Paxman has drawn criticism in the past over his comments about Scots

Television presenter Jeremy Paxman has been criticised for calling the work of Robert Burns "sentimental doggerel".

He made his comments in the introduction to the new edition of the Chambers Dictionary, which will be available from 22 August.

Dr Gerard Carruthers, an expert on the bard's works, accused the presenter of ignorance about Burns' work.

The Glasgow University academic said the poet was a great social satirist and Mr Paxman could learn from him.

"He could learn a lot from Burns because he was a great social satirist. He's got tonnes of skills that Paxman could only dream of in terms of interrogating humanity," he said.

I think we are strong enough as a nation to take it on the chin
Mary O'Neill
Chambers Dictionary editor

In the dictionary, Mr Paxman writes: "Although I am afraid I find the Scottish national poet no more than a king of sentimental doggerel, one might as well have used his ramfeezled to describe our state."

The Chambers Dictionary entry for doggerel is "badly written poetry". Ramfeezled means tired or exhausted.

The Scottish editor-in-chief of the dictionary, Mary O'Neill, defended the inclusion of Paxman's comments and said they were not an attack on Scotland.

"We all know he likes to poke fun at Scotland so we allowed the foreword to stand - it's not our place to censor him," she told BBC Scotland.

"I think we are strong enough as a nation to take it on the chin."

The Newsnight presenter, and author, has drawn criticism in the past over his comments about Scots.

A total of 20 MPs signed a Commons motion condemning the journalist for comparing the dominance of Scots at Westminster to British rule in India.




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