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Talkback gave fantasist Luke a very easy time

Surely I can't be alone in my amazement at the coverage given to Christopher Luke's claims that he was a "close companion" of former UUP leader James Molyneaux?

I don't think I can recall another instance where a remarkable claim depending entirely on the statements of one person about another - and which makes no claims on how the other party "felt" about the matter - managed to gain such traction in the media.

Everything Mr Luke said about Molyneaux describes only his own perspective - how he feels and felt about Lord Molyneaux. There isn't a single shred anywhere to suggest anything of Lord Molyneaux's attitude to Mr Luke; which is odd given that Mr Luke states that: "I had a very loving relationship with Jim. I loved him as a brother. He will always have a place in my heart. There was love between us, but there are different forms of love."

Gibberish though all this is, it was even more amazing to find it given airtime on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme as the ink was still wet on the memoriam notice in the papers, which was only a year late. More again to find presenter William Crawley practically creeping down the airwaves to coat Mr Luke in the most oleaginous faux compassion. At no point in the discussion did Mr Crawley see fit to challenge any of Mr Luke's assertions.

At no point did Mr Crawley seek objective confirmation of the claims his interviewee was making; even though Mr Luke clearly was drawing back from claiming any physical sexual relationship with his victim, which was equally clearly the implication which had Talkback slavering to get him on the phone in the first place.

It has since emerged, of course, that Mr Luke is a renowned fantasist and publicity-seeker. One would expect a broadcaster to retrace its steps after the revelations of the last few days and make some attempt to undo the erroneous impression it colluded in giving to the public about the nature of Lord Molyneaux's private life. I won't hold my breath.

It would be like waiting for the documentary on Molyneaux's 50-year career in politics, which one would have expected our public broadcaster to deliver in the wake of his death and which, a year later, still hasn't materialised.

Interviews with those who knew him best, from colleagues in unionism to political opponents at home and in Westminster, might well put to rest the scandalous, groundless innuendo people like Luke and programmes like Talkback feed upon.



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