The director of the Miss Grand Ireland beauty pageant has rejected claims by the 2019 winner that he was “inappropriate” calling her a “diva”.
Ex-Miss Grand Ireland, Hollie Funke Hersey, handed back her crown earlier this week. In a video released on Facebook, she claimed that director Manuel Munares “body-shamed” her. She also claims that he pinched her thighs while taking measurements and barged into a bathroom while she was getting undressed.
She said: “So for those that haven’t heard already, I handed back the Miss Grand Ireland crown early this week. I did so out of the respect I have for myself and for ALL WOMEN!!!
“I believed as Miss Grand Ireland my job was to empower and represent Irish women. By standing up for what is right was the most powerful thing I could do to empower and represent each and every woman of Ireland.”
Hollie added that her decision to step down from the pageant “had absolutely nothing to do with the Miss Grand International organisation”.
Munares says he deselected Hersey as she “became too diva” with “her demanding behaviour” and insists she permitted him to take her measurements.
He confirmed that he did tell Hersey to “do a bit of cardio” as he took her measurements. Manuel denied any misconduct in touching Hersey.
In response to claims that he barged into the bathroom while she was changing, he told the Irish Sun:
“All I did was tell her to hurry up. There were three gay guys in the room. I’m gay, I’m married, I’m not interested in women in a sexual way.”
Munares said he only touched Hollie “with permission” as he took her measurements.
And he maintained any advice he dished out was to “make sure” she looked “stunning”.
Following the allegations, Munares says he has been subjected to a wave of “abuse” online.
He said: “As the Director of Miss Grand Ireland, I would like to address the views expressed on social media in recent days by a former candidate of Miss Grand Ireland 2019. In no way was any disrespect shown or purposely directed to the candidate.
“In fact, from my point of view, we had built a friendly rapport and I was looking forward to a professional relationship.
“Unfortunately when it came to formal contracts to be signed it became clear the candidate’s expectations and the organisations in relation to what was expected from each party differed to the point where no agreement could be found.
“Unfortunately as director of Miss Grand Ireland, I had to make the decision to thank the candidate for her time and part ways.”
The beauty pageant owner also addressed Hollie’s list of claims against him, saying: “It was stated in online content that the candidate felt uncomfortable with men being present at a photo shoot.
“It was communicated to the candidate three men present, including myself, were all playing a professional role for example photographer.
“She was happy with this and did not at any stage communicate that she was uncomfortable and had her own female representative with her at all times. It was also stated that she was advised to lose weight.”
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