Belfast Telegraph

Liam Neeson removed from Queen's prospectus as university stays silent on star’s honorary doctorate

Liam Neeson on Good Morning America in February
Liam Neeson on Good Morning America in February
Victoria Leonard

By Victoria Leonard

Queen's University has failed to confirm whether it will rescind Liam Neeson's honorary doctorate after he was reportedly removed from its latest prospectus for new students.

Yesterday, BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show reported that it had received "inside information" that Mr Neeson was scheduled to be in this year's prospectus for new students, but "an instruction was given for him to be removed".

Mr Neeson featured in the university's 2019 prospectus in the 'heritage and heroes' section, but does not feature in the 2020 prospectus.

In an interview earlier this year, Mr Neeson said he once had thoughts about killing a black person with a cosh following the rape of a close friend.

He revealed that he had walked the streets armed with a weapon, hoping that he would be approached by someone so he could kill them.

After he made the remarks, the New York premiere of his movie Cold Pursuit was axed.

In 2009, Mr Neeson was awarded an honorary doctorate by Queen's University at a ceremony in New York for his Outstanding Contribution and Service to the Arts.

When contacted repeatedly by this newspaper yesterday, Queen's University remained tight-lipped over both the prospectus and the honorary degree.

The Belfast Telegraph asked for confirmation that Mr Neeson was scheduled to be in this year's prospectus for new students, but had been removed following an instruction.

We also asked whether the reported removal was linked to his comments in the interview earlier this year and whether Queen's University would be rescinding Mr Neeson's honorary degree in light of these comments.

However, we received no response from the university.

Mr Neeson's agent was also contacted, but did not issue a response for publication.

During his controversial interview with The Independent newspaper, Mr Neeson said that the anger he had felt after learning his friend had been attacked had subsided after about a week-and-a-half.

Mr Neeson described his actions at the time as "horrible".

Following a public outcry at his comments, he appeared on ABC's Good Morning America and said: "I'm not racist."

He added that he wanted his original comments to start a wider conversation about racism.

Discussing his behaviour, he said: "It really shocked me, this primal urge... it was shocking.

"It shocked me and it hurt me... I did seek help - I went to a priest."

Stars such as Whoopi Goldberg, Ralph Fiennes and author John Bannville came to Mr Neeson's defence after the row broke out. Ms Goldberg said: "You can't be surprised that somebody whose loved one is attacked is angry and wants to go out and attack."

However, others, including singer Lily Allen, slammed the actor.

Ms Allen dedicated a performance of her expletive-ridden song F*** You to the actor.

Belfast Telegraph


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