Belfast Telegraph

Tyson Fury row: BBC Northern Ireland under fire over suspension of reporter Andy West

By Staff Reporter

The row over Tyson Fury's inclusion for the BBC Sports Personality of The Year continues to rumble on.

With the award ceremony to take place next Sunday in Belfast, the LGBT group of the Alliance Party has accused BBC Northern Ireland of censorship for suspending reporter Andy West, who said in an online post that the row had made him ashamed to work for the broadcaster.

Alliance LGBT chairperson Micky Murray said: "The BBC's decision to suspend the reporter over comments he has made regarding the comments of Tyson Fury is ridiculous."

Earlier this week the journalist posted on Facebook: "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.

"I am ashamed to work for the BBC when it lacks bravery to admit that it is making a mistake."

On Thursday morning Mr West confirmed his suspension on Twitter by writing: "I can't say more but, as of yesterday, I am suspended by the BBC pending investigation. I made my bed, now I have time to lie in it!"

Mr Murray said he believed "the Sports Personality of the Year award is to celebrate great sportsmanship and personality, so the BBC's decision to nominate someone who has went on record to say that homosexuals are contributing to the end of the world is damaging to young LGBT people".

He added: "Young people look up to sports stars and it gives the impression that the BBC are more about pulling in big names in the sports industry than supporting and giving a voice to LGBT people and minority groups.

"This is censorship of opinion and Alliance LGBT would like to stand up and support Andy. We too are ashamed of the BBC for nominating someone who makes such damaging, hurtful comments."

Fury also caused outrage after saying athlete Jessica Ennis "slaps up good" and "looks fit in a dress", but yesterday he received backing from Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who insisted it would be wrong to remove him from the awards ceremony.

Speaking on LBC radio, Mr Farage was asked if he felt Fury should stay in the competition. He replied: "This idea that he should be kicked off Sports Personality of the Year is all going to backfire. I'll make a prediction now. Get down to Ladbrokes and get your money on because Fury is going to win.

"It's up to us as people who vote to make up our minds. Fury is an evangelical Christian - that is what he thinks.

"I think he's perfectly entitled to hold those views. It doesn't mean I share them. I personally wouldn't make abortion illegal.

"We have big religious communities in this country that hold very strong views.

"These are the views that many people have, and we have to stop hounding people out for having different opinions."

The controversy began after a November interview with the Mail On Sunday in which Fury said: "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."

Belfast Telegraph


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