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‘University Challenge’ Octopus Row: Conservative Peer Forced To Apologize & Pay Damages To Contestant Accused Of Coded Antisemitic Attack

A Conservative Party peer in the UK has been forced to apologize and pay damages to a University Challenge contestant who she accused of making a coded antisemitic attack via an octopus mascot and jacket supposedly emblazoned with the colors of the Palestinian flag.

Baroness Jacqueline Foster took to X today to apologize “for my part in posts made about” Melika Gorgianeh in the aftermath of the episode, which had caused a furore on social media as people believed the mascot and colors to be coded.

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“I wrongly alleged that Ms Gorgianeh chose one of the most disgusting antisemitic symbols, a blue octopus as her team’s mascot which I held her responsible for,” said Foster. “I accept that these allegations were completely false and unfounded. I made a grave mistake in making those posts and I should not have done so.”

Foster added that she has “agreed to pay substantial damages and costs” to Gorgianeh, and the pair have reached an “amicable resolution.”

The BBC stressed at the time that the show was filmed months before Hamas’ October 7 attack, while the octopus is one of Oxford University students’ favorite animals and the colors of Gorgianeh’s jacket were not the same as the flag of Palestine.

The incident is the second time University Challenge has been in the news for the wrong reasons this year. A festive edition was canceled after disabled contestants complained that producers had failed to support them.

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