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Tyson Fury row: BBC NI reporter 'threatened with suspension' after saying he was 'ashamed' to work for broadcaster

A row erupted after Tyson Fury was kept on the SPOTY shortlist after his controversial comments

A BBC Northern Ireland journalist has been "threatened with suspension" after criticising the broadcaster's decision to keep Tyson Fury on the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the year, according to reports.

Andy West, a BBC NI news presenter wrote on his Facebook that he was "ashamed to work for the BBC", according to BuzzFeed News.

He wrote online: "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."

Tyson Fury has been criticised since a November interview with the Mail On Sunday in which he 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."

The heavyweight has also been 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."

The BBC has so far refused to remove Fury from the 12-person Sports Personality of the Year shortlist, with the winner of the award set to be announced on December 20.

A BBC source told BuzzFeed News that as a result of the comments Mr West was “reprimanded by a manager, told an investigation would be launched into his conduct and warned he could be suspended”.

In a further comment under the status Mr West said: "I criticise the BBC for offering him as an idol to be celebrated and admired not just for his sporting achievements but also his 'personality'."

An online petition calling for Fury to be removed from the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, citing his views on homosexuality, has attracted more than 100,000 signatures.

It is understood Mr West had also signed this petition.

Mr West's status update is understood to have since been taken down.

In an email leaked to BuzzFeed, reportedly sent from Mr West to Mr Tony Hall - the BBC Director General, Mr West said: “I appeal to you as an equal opportunities employer and proud bastion of fair-thinking to consider whether it is appropriate to celebrate someone who has stated that gay people are sign of a coming Armageddon and equates homosexuals to paedophiles.”

“Can it be that my own employer is happy to suggest that this individual is an example for us to follow?”

A BBC spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual staff matters.”

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