Andy West: Tyson Fury row reporter on why he's quit BBC NI
Journalist suspended over SPOTY comments plans to be children's author
A gay journalist who said he was ashamed to work for the BBC after they refused to axe Tyson Fury from the Sports Personality of the Year shortlist over his homophobic views has now left the corporation, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Andy West, a former BBC NI news reporter, is now pursuing a separate career writing and illustrating children's books.
The journalist, a familiar face on local news bulletins, became embroiled in the Fury row late last year. He criticised the BBC's refusal to remove controversial boxer Fury from the shortlist for the awards, which were presented in Belfast, despite more than 100,000 people signing a petition following his controversial comments on abortion, women and homosexuality.
In early December, Mr West wrote online: "My employer is hurting me and other gay people by celebrating someone who considers me no better than a paedophile and who believes homosexual people are helping to bring about the end of the world."
Just days later, he confirmed on his Twitter page that he was suspended from his post pending an investigation.
He also posted a five-minute YouTube video to explain his reasons for objecting to Fury's nomination for the award.
In it, he acknowledged that he "shouldn't have given my opinion on something that was current" but said that at the same time he "couldn't forget the little boy I was when I was nine or 10 at school and I was being bullied for being camp and being gay".
At one point, his partner interrupted him during the recording for a kiss and told him he would be the next Graham Norton.
Mr West confirmed to this newspaper that he left the BBC two weeks ago, on January 20.
While he wouldn't go in to the reasons behind his departure, the journalist said he was now exploring different opportunities within media.
"I can't say at this point in what way but I have left," he said.
A BBC spokesperson yesterday said: "We do not routinely comment on individual staff matters."
Mr West also revealed he's pursuing a separate venture writing and illustrating children's books under the pen name, Oliver John Bedtime Stories.
"I've been writing for friends and nephews and nieces for a while and people are starting to ask me to do it more. Since I now have more freedom I thought I might as well try and reach a broader audience," he said.
"The first book I wrote was three years ago for my nephew. I thought it was a nice thing to do for someone.
"I find it quite enjoyable to write for children and I'm quite good at art so I thought I would illustrate it as well. I never really had time but for now I do."