A speaker at the London Book Fair has apologised for his “crass and offensive” language after introducing Joanna Trollope as a woman he would like to “snog”.Tony Mulliken, chairman of the fair’s public relations firm, was condemned for making the “abhorrent” remark in front of an audience of writers and Trollope fans.Trollope was attending the event as ‘Author of the Day’ and taking part in a panel discussion. Mulliken reportedly opened proceedings by saying he had once read that Trollope was “always looking for a great kiss”.He went on: “I often see her in Kensington and think I’d like to give her a snog.”Clare Mackintosh, the best-selling thriller writer, was in the audience and tweeted her outrage in a series of posts widely shared on social media. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. I’m still reeling. I can’t believe anyone would see this as anything other than what it was: an attempt to humiliate a talented professional author in front of an audience. Makes my skin crawl.— Angela Clarke (@TheAngelaClarke) April 10, 2018 “What kind of message does that send to the audience, about how female authors are treated? We live in an age where sexual harassment and discrimination have never been more important, where the gender pay gap is headline news, and #MeToo victims have finally been given a voice.“It was a grossly inappropriate way to introduce an author, and while Joanna dealt with it in an incredibly professional manner, she should never have been placed in that position.” “So angry about this. He was addressing a roomful of authors: what message is that giving them about how women are valued? No wonder there’s a bloody gender pay gap!”Mackintosh, a police officer for 12 years before becoming an author, made a formal complaint to the Book Fair management. She was supported online by other women.Mackintosh later told The Bookseller: “I find it abhorrent that someone introducing an author would gloss over their professional achievements in favour of their sexual attributes, particularly at an event design to inspire authors. At #AuthorHQ #LBF2018, revolted to hear Joanna Trollope being introduced as someone the (male) host would ‘like to snog’. Reductive and inappropriate.— Clare Mackintosh (@claremackint0sh) April 10, 2018 This is completely unacceptable. The host should make an immediate and unreserved apology. I am horrified, Clare.— Alison Barrow (@alisonbarrow) April 10, 2018 I know Joanna and I’m 100% certain she’d be bloody furious. She’s a women of such poise and dignity – how DARE he seek to diminish her in such a way. Hope you get somewhere with calling him out on it.— Joanna Frank (@Joannask331) April 10, 2018 Mulliken is chairman of Midas PR, which manages publicity for the London Book Fair. The session he was introducing followed one on ‘everyday sexism’.He said in a statement: “I was wrong to introduce Joanna Trollope as I did yesterday. I have the utmost respect for her and I was trying to reference a recent interview Joanna Trollope gave in an irreverent and light-hearted way but I realise that what I said not only missed that mark, but it was crass and offensive.“I am sorry I offended Joanna, many in the audience, as well as my colleagues. I have apologised to Joanna directly and unreservedly. I have also spoken to Clare Mackintosh and apologised.”A spokesman for the London Book Fair said: “The London Book Fair was deeply disappointed to hear about this issue and thanks Clare Mackintosh for bringing it to our attention so that it could be addressed. As ever, when any third party at The London Book Fair causes offence we apologise unreservedly.” Trollope declined to comment.