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BBC journalist Andy West breaks silence over Tyson Fury SPOTY storm

By Staff Reporter

Published 28/12/2015

Suspended: Andy West in video
Suspended: Andy West in video

Suspended BBC Northern Ireland journalist Andy West has broken his silence after posting a Christmas video online.

In a five-minute YouTube video recorded last Sunday before the Sports Personality of the year (SPOTY) in Belfast, he explained again his reasons for his objecting to Tyson Fury's nomination for the award.

The Newsline journalist has been suspended since December 9, when he posted online that he was "ashamed to work for the BBC" after their refusal to withdraw Tyson Fury from the SPOTY awards shortlist after the boxer was accused of making homophobic remarks.

Mr West said: "I'm not really meant to say anything, but I wanted to just say that I chose between being an objective journalist and being a human being with thoughts and opinions with principles."

He acknowledged that "I 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 went on to say: "I've almost ruined my career because my employer is saying someone who is saying I'm akin to a paedophile is worthy of a pedestal in front of other people, and that's what I take exception to."

"He's [Fury] made money, he's got his belts. I think the BBC has made a mistake. I've no problem with him expressing his opinion. I've got a problem with the BBC saying this is someone we should look up to as Sports Personality of the Year."

The BBC has so far declined to comment publicly on the matter, saying only, "we do not routinely comment on individual staff matters."

When the awards ceremony took place at the SSE Arena last Sunday, around 30 gay and equal rights campaigners protested the event, holding banners and chanting slogans such as "anti-woman, anti-gay, Tyson Fury go away."

During the live broadcast, Fury apologised on stage when he was interviewed by host Gary Lineker.

"I have said a lot of stuff in the past and none of it is with the intention to hurt anybody," he said.

"It's all very tongue-in-cheek. Its all fun and games for me. I am not really a serious type of person.

"Everything is happy-go-lucky with Tyson Fury. If I've said anything in the past that has hurt anybody, I apologise to anybody who has been hurt. It was not my intention to do that."

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