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It was a mistake and I'm sorry, says BBC man who reposted threat to Tele writer Malachi

By Cate McCurryand Jonny Bell

Published 26/05/2016

Liam Beckett
Liam Beckett
Malachi O'Doherty

BBC football pundit Liam Beckett has apologised after retweeting a threat aimed at a journalist.

Author and commentator Mr Beckett appeared to support a tweet suggesting that Belfast Telegraph contributor Malachi O'Doherty should be "done" in the legs and the mouth over comments he made about motorbike road racing.

He said sorry yesterday, describing the incident as a "complete error" and claiming that he retweeted the message while not wearing his glasses and attending a function.

Speaking on Frank Mitchell's U105 radio show, Mr Beckett issued an "unreserved apology".

He said the initial tweet by a man he had never met was "absolutely unacceptable" and he had reposted it accidentally.

Mr Beckett added: "This was a complete error. Anyone who would know me would know that is not how I do business."

He explained that he was at a function on Saturday night and, without his reading glasses, was "doing a few retweets".

He also invited Mr O'Doherty to attend the Ulster Grand Prix to sample the buzzing atmosphere at a road race.

Mr O'Doherty said he accepted Mr Beckett's apology but went on to accuse him of trying to stop him giving his views.

The Belfast Telegraph contributor added: "This is somebody who is in the same business as myself - journalism and commentary - using pressure, using abuse and intimidation to get me off a story. That cannot be tolerated.

"If someone of his profile with 6,000 followers signals to those followers that it would be desirable that I have my legs broken or mouth broken, that's something that puts me on my guard for my own personal safety.

"I am a commentator in the BBC and I am subject to the same guidelines, I understand that. So I was particularly surprised knowing the culture and ethos that someone from inside the BBC would have done such a thing."

He added that while Mr Beckett was entitled to have issues with his views on motorbike road racing, he was not entitled to issue a rallying call to his thousands of Twitter followers to "have a dig" at him.

Mr O'Doherty faced a barrage of abuse after writing in an opinion piece that road racers were "driving themselves to serious injury and death".

The journalist added that he was "horrified" at the retweet by BBC pundit Mr Beckett, who he has never met.

"I was unnerved by it and I was shocked that it was (made by) someone like myself, a commentator who is essentially in the same business," Mr O'Doherty told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I was truly horrified and thought he would have known better. I take the threat very seriously and it does make me feel that I need to attend to my personal security."

A spokeswoman for the BBC said the broadcaster would investigate the matter.

"We are aware of issues raised by Liam Beckett's retweet on Friday evening and will be looking into them," she added.

Mr Beckett did not respond to a Belfast Telegraph request for comment.

by cate mccurry and jonny bell

Belfast Telegraph

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