• Presenter says he is ‘ashamed to work for the BBC’
• BBC says: ‘We do not comment on individual matters
BBC Northern Ireland has threatened to suspend one of its journalists for criticising the decision to invite Tyson Fury to the Sports Personality of the Year awards, which will be held in Belfast on 20 December.
The presenter Andy West posted on his Facebook page he was “ashamed to work for the BBC” after Fury’s name was added to the nomination list.
West was angry over Fury’s attempt to link homosexuality to paedophilia in an interview with the Mail on Sunday.
The gay Northern Ireland-based journalist has said he has written to the BBCdirector general, Tony Hall, over Fury’s nomination.
Hall is expected to be questioned about Fury’s nomination by the culture, media and sport select committee next week.
In his online post, West wrote: “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.”
West’s comments were picked up by the news website Buzzfeed which quoted an anonymous BBC source as saying that the journalist/presenter was “reprimanded by a manager, told an investigation would be launched into his conduct and warned he could be suspended”.
The journalist is understood to have signed an online petition which has so far collected 124,000 signatures calling for Fury to be taken off the Spoty shortlist .
As of mid-afternoon on Wednesday, BBC Northern Ireland’s website had yet to report the controversy over their journalist’s remarks. A BBC spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual staff matters.”
Local gay and feminist groups said they planned to picket the Odyssey Arena where the event will be staged.
The Northern Irish gay rights organisation, the Rainbow Project, said: “It is likely LGBT and feminist activists from Belfast and across Northern Ireland will engage in some form of protest should Tyson Fury remain on the shortlist.”