Belfast Telegraph

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Tyson Fury row ex-BBC reporter Andy West leaving Belfast

Published 19/02/2016

Andy West working on BBC Newsline
Andy West working on BBC Newsline

Former Northern Ireland BBC journalist Andy West, who left the organisation following a storm over his comments on boxer Tyson Fury's inclusion in the Sports Personality of the Year shortlist, has said goodbye to Belfast.

The journalist was suspended by the BBC and subsequently left after he posted comments on his Facebook page about the corporation.

It came after a furore around controversial comments made by Tyson Fury about homosexuality, paedophiles and women.

Thousands signed a petition to have Fury removed from the shortlist for the awards which were held in Belfast for the first time on Sunday December 20.

As the petition against the boxer grew in signatures his inclusion almost caused a fellow nominee to quit.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed that Olympic athlete Greg Rutherford threatened to quit the awards ceremony because of the comments, but following crisis talks within the BBC he later changed his mind.

The star-studded event went ahead and a packed out SSE Arena watched as Andy Murray was crowned Sports Personality of the Year.

As the BBC remained silent and kept Fury within the shortlist Mr West took to Twitter to voice his anger.

He wrote: "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.

"It's tempting to see him for the laughable idiot he is but sadly there are many other idiots who will be inspired and encourage by his naive, juvenile bigotry. I am ashamed to work for the BBC when it lacks bravery to admit it is making a mistake."

Winner of 2015 Sports Personality of the Year Andy Murray during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Winner of 2015 Sports Personality of the Year Andy Murray during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Winner of Coach of the Year, Michael O'Neill during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Winner of the Unsung Hero Award, Damien Lindsay with his award during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Tony McCoy poses with his Lifetime Achievement Award during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Dina Asher-Smith and Carl Frampton during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 20, 2015. See PA story SPORT Personality. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Winner of Young Sports Personality of the Year, Ellie Downie during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 20, 2015. See PA story SPORT Personality. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Andy Murray during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 20, 2015. See PA story SPORT Personality. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Tony McCoy with his award during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Rory McIlroy onstage to present Winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Tony McCoy with his award during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Tony McCoy poses with his Lifetime Achievement Award during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Kevin Sinfield onstage with Leeds Rhino's teammates during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Winner of the Helen Rollason Award, Bailey Matthews during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Niall Horan and Rebecca Adlington during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Niall Horan and Rebecca Adlington during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Rory McIlroy and Niall Horan during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Ella Henderson, performing with Sigma, during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Tyson Fury and wife Paris before Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Adam Peaty on stage during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Adam Peaty on stage with Presenter Gabby Logan during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Max Whitlock on stage with Presenter Gabby Logan during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Max Whitlock performs on stage during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Max Whitlock performs on stage during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Lucy Bronze on stage during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Lucy Bronze speaks to Presenter Gary Lineker during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Lucy Bronze with the England Women's football team speaks to Presenter Gary Lineker during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Greg Rutherford speaks to Presenter Gabby Logan during Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Jenny Jones and friends on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Rory McIlroy and Niall Horan attends the Red Carpet for the SPOTY awards at Titanic Belfast on Sunday evening ,The BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 is held at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Leeds Rhinos attends the Red Carpet for the SPOTY awards at Titanic Belfast on Sunday evening ,The BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 is held at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Dan Carter and wife Honor during the red carpet arrivals for Sports Personality of the Year 2015, at the Titanic Belfast, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 20, 2015. See PA story SPORT Personality. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Tyson Fury and wife Paris before Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Tim Wheeler from Ash performs on stage before Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Michael Conlon and Paddy Barnes during the red carpet arrivals for Sports Personality of the Year 2015, at the Titanic Belfast, Belfast.
Tony McCoy before Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Shane Lowry speaks to Graeme McDowell before Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Eamonn Holmes speaks to Eddie Izzard on stage before Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Jessica Ennis-Hill in the crowd before Sports Personality of the Year 2015 at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Kevin Sinfield pictured with team mates arriving at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year red carpet event at Titanic Belfast, the worldÕs largest Titanic visitor attraction Picture by Andrew Paton/Press Eye.com
Judy Murray on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
The Great Britain Davis Cup tennis team with Andy Murray on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
AP McCoy on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
Jenny Jones and friends on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - DECEMBER 20: gymnasts on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - DECEMBER 20: Adam Peaty attends the BBC Sports Personality of theon the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - DECEMBER 20: Pat Jennings on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - DECEMBER 20: The Leeds Rhinos on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - DECEMBER 20: Tyson Fury and his family on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - DECEMBER 20: Gymnast Beth Tweddle on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - DECEMBER 20: boxers Barry McGuigan and Carl Frampton with their partners on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
Credit - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast , UK - December 20, Jessica Ennis arrives at the BBC SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR 2015: RED CARPET in Belfast, Northern Ireland on December 20 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph )
PACEMAKER BELFAST 20/12/2015 Andy Murray attends the Red Carpet for the SPOTY awards at Titanic Belfast on Sunday evening ,The BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 is held at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 20/12/2015 Kevin Sinfield attends the Red Carpet for the SPOTY awards at Titanic Belfast on Sunday evening ,The BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 is held at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 20/12/2015 Andy Murray attends the Red Carpet for the SPOTY awards at Titanic Belfast on Sunday evening ,The BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 is held at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Boxing Heavyweight Champion of the World Tyson Fury arrives at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in Belfast
Boxing Heavyweight Champion of the World Tyson Fury arrives at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in Belfast
Footballer Lucy Bronze arrives at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in Belfast
Tyson Fury and his father pose on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
Paris and Tyson Fury pose on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
Andy Hill and Jessica Ennis-Hill on the red carpet at Titanic Building before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
Denise Lewis on the red carpet at Titanic Building before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
Lizzie Armitstead poses on the red carpet before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
Presenter Jordanne Whiley poses on the red carpet at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
Sameenah Toussaint (National Boxing Champion 13yr age group) and Blue Peter Presenter Radzi Chinyanganya on the red carpet at Titanic Building before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at the SSE Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
Unsung Heroes on the red carpet at Titanic Building before the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Carrie Davenport/Getty Images)
Eamonn Holmes during the red carpet arrivals for Sports Personality of the Year 2015, at the Titanic Belfast, Belfast. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Dennis Taylor during the red carpet arrivals for Sports Personality of the Year 2015, at the Titanic Belfast, Belfast. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Jay Beattie arrives at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Photo Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph.
Mike Gibson during the red carpet arrivals for Sports Personality of the Year 2015, at the Titanic Belfast, Belfast. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Jason Mohammad during the red carpet arrivals for Sports Personality of the Year 2015, at the Titanic Belfast, Belfast. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Sean Cavanagh during the red carpet arrivals for Sports Personality of the Year 2015, at the Titanic Belfast, Belfast. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
The Unsung Heroes during the red carpet arrivals for Sports Personality of the Year 2015, at the Titanic Belfast, Belfast. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Nicola Adams arrives at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Pic: Andrew Paton/Press Eye.com
Jay Beattie arrives at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Photo Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph.
Guests arrive at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Photo Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph.
Nicola Adams arrives at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Photo Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph.
Dame Mary Peters, Darren Clarke and Barry McGuigan with the Sports Personality of the Year trophy.

Mr West now appears to have left Belfast tweeting a picture of the BBC building.

He said: "I'm leaving Belfast but Belfast won't leave me. I'm so lucky to have lived here and lucky to have met you all. Xx"

The BBC journalist spoke exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph in the wake of the storm giving his first full interview on the controversy.

He said: "Do I regret telling the truth? Do I regret saying what I believe and standing by my principles? Do I regret speaking out against someone who says by implication that I am akin to a paedophile or that my mother's or sister's place is in the kitchen on their backs? How could I regret that?"

The comments which sparked the controversy were given by Tyson Fury to the Mail On Sunday: "There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the devil comes home: one of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other one's paedophilia."

The heavyweight was also accused of sexism after a YouTube video emerged of him saying Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill "slaps up good", before adding: "A woman's best place is in the kitchen and on her back - that's my personal belief."

He later apologised if his outspoken comments about gays, paedophiles and women hurt anyone's feelings - but added that he would not apologise for his beliefs.

Almost 30 gay and equal-rights campaigners protested outside the event which went off without incident.

Fury apologised on stage, saying: "I have said a lot of stuff in the past and none of it is with the intention to hurt anybody.

"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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