BBC's Nolan takes aim at 'cowardly internet trolls' and speaks of anguish over malicious social media smear campaign
BBC presenter Stephen Nolan has spoken of his anguish after an old image of him on his television show was "twisted and distorted" to suggest he was "acting inappropriately" while on a foreign holiday.
Mr Nolan has been absent from the airwaves over the past week as he is in the USA working on a BBC project.
However, on Friday night he issued a statement after an image of him was shared widely online.
It showed him and a guest on his Nolan Live show in 2016 show. He and the male guest were stripped to their underwear in a skit about the broadcaster making a modelling debut.
During the television show a running commentary was provided by May McFettridge which left the audience in fits of laughter.
A screengrab was taken from the segment and manipulated in such a way to suggest the picture was taken recently and while he was abroad.
Mr Nolan said his legal team had logged details of all those who had interacted with the image and gave them a chance to apologise.
"I have been the victim of a malicious social media campaign this week," said Mr Nolan in a statement.
"Internet trolls distorted a television image and then nastily and falsely used it to suggest I had been acting inappropriately in a foreign country.
"In actual fact, the real image was from my Nolan Live tv programme, of me in November 2016 on BBC Northern Ireland television, in my capacity as a tv presenter with a guest on my show.
"18 months later, the tv images were then twisted and distorted into lies by internet trolls."
An extraordinary level of malicious vindictiveness
Mr Nolan said those "lies were then spread across social media with falsehood, in order to hurt me and cause me distress".
"It is an extraordinary level of malicious vindictiveness," he added.
"For those who retweeted or liked or shared the defamation, they too are vicious trolls who are no better than the keyboard warriors who created it.
"My legal team has logged those cowards who shared, liked, retweeted or commented on this defamatory personal attack against me."
The presenter of "the biggest show" in the country said he would be using his considerable strength and resources to go after those who took part in the smear campaign. He said if anyone wanted to apologise they should get in contact with his high-profile libel lawyer Paul Tweed "very quickly".
"Bullying on the internet costs lives," he added.
"On behalf of all those children and adults who have found themselves bullied online, I will be using my strength and resources to pursue the trolls who defamed me so that they cannot bully anybody else."
Mr Nolan thanked his friends had colleagues had been supportive and so to were numerous politicians who called to offer their support.
"Finally, I need to thank the Northern Ireland listeners and viewers who have bombarded me with support this week," he added.
"I have a very special relationship with you - even those of you who I wind up! - and the only way I can pay you back is by me continuing to fight for your voices to be heard on radio and tv.
"I am currently in the USA for a BBC project but I’ll talk to you all on the radio next week when I get home."
Belfast Telegraph Digital