Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Wright murder comments 'offensive'

Matthew Wright later apologised to Liam Aitchison's family

Comments made by presenter Matthew Wright about the alleged murder of a teenager on a remote Scottish island caused "considerable offence" to viewers, TV watchdog Ofcom has said.

Liam Aitchison, 16, was found dead in a derelict building in the Steinish area of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in November.

His death was later raised during a newspaper review section on the Wright Stuff show.

Wright put on a Scottish accent and said "there's been another murder", copying a phrase from TV detective show Taggart, while talking about the teenager's death with guest Charlie Baker in December last year.

His remarks prompted 2,358 complaints to Ofcom from viewers of the broadcast on December 6. A statement issued on behalf of Liam's family at the time said the comments were "very upsetting", "insulting" and "insensitive".

Wright later apologised on air, saying it hadn't been his intention to "belittle" the teenager's death. He also wrote to Liam's family to say sorry.

Ofcom found discussion of the teenager's death had been handled in a "highly inappropriate manner" and in a "thoughtless fashion". But it found that the matter had been "resolved" because Channel 5 took steps to mitigate the offence caused.

The watchdog said: "Our view was that all these comments were clearly capable of causing offence to viewers given the sensitivity surrounding the very recent murder of a 16-year-old teenager in an isolated Scottish community."

In the Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, the watchdog added: "The comments made by Matthew Wright on this occasion went beyond the likely expectations of the audience for this programme. Ofcom recognises that the comments caused considerable offence, particularly to viewers in Scotland. On balance however, and in light of the steps taken by Channel 5 to mitigate this offence, Ofcom considered the matter resolved."

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