Paul Hollywood has issued a statement of apology after pictures of him dressed as a Nazi were published by The Sun. The Great British Bake Off presenter was captured posing in a Nazi uniform, complete with swastika and iron cross, alongside a friend who was dressed similarly.
The TV show judge was quick to respond to the public backlash, stating that he was "absolutely devastated" over the photo and the offense it may have caused anyone.
"The picture was taken 14 years ago en route to a comedy TV show-themed New Year's Eve party and a group of us dressed up as characters from the classic TV show 'Allo 'Allo!" the celebrity host explained of the costume similar to the one worn by General Von Klinkerhoffen in the series.
"Everyone who knows me knows I am incredibly proud of the efforts of those, including my own grandfather, who fought against the Nazis during the war."
In a 2015 episode of the GBBO, Hollywood learned about how his grandfather Norman Harman served as an anti-aircraft gunner in World War II.
According to The Sun, the former baker and his friend posed for photos at the White Stag in the village of Monkton before heading to their fancy dress party.
"To them it was a great big joke to be wearing a Nazi uniform, and they were laughing about it and happily posed for a picture at the bar," a source told the tabloid.
"But some found it offensive — especially the fact they thought it was really funny.
"They may have been going to a fancy dress party — but what sort of person goes into a pub in German military uniform with a swastika on their sleeve?" the source added.
The photo triggered severe criticism across the UK, with many shaming the Channel 4 host on Twitter. "So Paul Hollywood is devastated after pics show him dressed as a Nazi. Top tip, don't dress as a Nazi then you f**king idiot," one person commented.
Fellow British TV personality Ricky Gervais joked about the photo, sharing one of himself dressed as a Nazi soldier alongside Kate Winslet in a nun's habit. "I'm outraged by this Paul Hollywood photo. Smoking & drinking in uniform is disgraceful," the talk show host mentioned in another tweet.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism organisation took a more understanding approach to the incident.
"Wearing these costumes for fun is an insult to the British soldiers and civilians who died repelling Hitler's onslaught and the 6 million Jews and many others who were murdered," a spokesman for the campaign said, according to The Guardian.
"However, we appreciate Paul Hollywood's immediate apology and note that this happened 14 years ago. We do not expect any further action."