Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Calm after storm for BBC reporter Andy West who stood up to broadcaster over Tyson Fury

By David Young

Published 02/01/2016

Suspended: Andy West (right) and friend celebrate New Year
Suspended: Andy West (right) and friend celebrate New Year

After a turbulent end to the year, outspoken gay BBC reporter Andy West has posted a relaxed New Year photo of himself chilling happily with a friend.

The mellow image comes just days after Mr West took down a hard-hitting YouTube video in which he said he had had to choose "between being an objective journalist and being a human being with thoughts and opinions with principles".

The Newsline reporter got into hot water with BBC bosses after posting a social media comment in the run-up to 2015's Sports Personality of the Year, saying he was "ashamed to work for the BBC".

The journalist was angry that the broadcaster had not dumped world champion boxer Tyson Fury from the glitzy show after the fighter made a series remarks that were widely condemned as homophobic and misogynistic.

Mr West was immediately suspended from his job, while an internal BBC investigation was set in motion.

In his YouTube video - since deleted - Mr West accepted that he "shouldn't have given my opinion on something that was current". But he went on to say that 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".

He added: "I've almost ruined my career because my employer is saying that 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."

Following his suspension, Mr West received many messages of support, including one from Stormont Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin. Mr West was also publicly backed by his mum, Pauline Morris (63).

An online petition calling on the BBC to reinstate Mr West has so far attracted almost 7,000 signatures, while more than 100,000 people signed a Change.org petition calling for Fury to be removed from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist.

The broadcaster refused to drop Fury from the contest, but in the event the Sports Personality of the Year award went to tennis player Andy Murray.

When the exclusive ceremony took place at the SSE Arena in Belfast last month, 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".

Mr West remains suspended from his post. A BBC spokeswoman said the organisation did not routinely comment on staff matters.

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