The publisher of Pete Evans’ books has said it is “finalising” its relationship with the celebrity chef after he posted a cartoon on his social media accounts which included a neo-Nazi symbol used by the Christchurch terrorist.
The former My Kitchen Rules host on Sunday posted a cartoon on Facebook and Instagram to his over 1.5m followers of a caterpillar wearing a Make America Great Again hat talking to a black butterfly with a Black Sun symbol on its wing.
The ancient European symbol, also known as the sonnenrad, has been appropriated by Nazis and is recognised as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.
The symbol was also used on the Christchurch terrorist’s manifesto before the massacre last year. According to Gizmodo, the meme was also published this week on a Nordic neo-Nazi website.
While his intention in posting the cartoon remains unclear, Evans, who frequently posts discredited conspiracy theories on Covid-19, 5G, and Qanon on his social media accounts, initially responded to someone pointing out it was the Black Sun symbol with: “I was waiting for someone to see that.” He followed up in another comment that “an image can represent so many things to so many” and he did not align with white supremacy or nazism.
In a subsequent post, Evans apologised to people who “misinterpreted” the cartoon.
“Sincere apologies to anyone who misinterpreted a previous post of a caterpillar and a butterfly having a chat over a drink and perceived that I was promoting hatred,” he said. “I look forward to studying all of the symbols that have ever existed and research them thoroughly before posting.”
Pan Macmillan, which has published over a dozen of Evans’ books on keto and paleo diets, cooking and other health-related topics said on Monday it did not support the posts and was ending its relationship with Evans.
“Pan Macmillan does not support the recent posts made by Pete Evans. Those views are not our views as a company or the views of our staff. Pan Macmillan is currently finalising its contractual relationship with Pete Evans and as such will not be entering any further publishing agreements moving forward,” the published said in a statement.
“If any retailer wishes to return Pete Evans’ books please contact Pan Macmillan.”
The bookstore Dymocks said it was “in the process of removing his books from our website and have advised our stores to return their stock as offered by the publisher”.
Guardian Australia has sought comment from Evans. Coles, which stocks Evans’ food products, did not respond to a request for comment.