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Tyson Fury row ex-BBC reporter Andy West leaving Belfast

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."

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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