A Milton Keynes mum has spoken of the pride she feels for her journalist son, who was suspended by the BBC after speaking out against Tyson Fury’s inclusion in the Sports Personality of the Year Award.
Andy West, 33, a BBC Northern Ireland presenter, was suspended by the BBC after posting a Facebook status saying he was ashamed to work for them because of Fury being on the award’s shortlist, despite his recent comments linking homosexuality and paedophilia.
Now his mum, Pauline Morris, 63, has spoken out in support of her son – who is gay – and has said how proud of him she is for sticking to his beliefs.
Mrs Morris, from Newport Pagnell, told Milton Keyne’s News:
“Andy is feeling quite stressed and it’s on my mind all the time. He doesn’t want to lose his job and I don’t want him to. But I’m proud of him for standing his ground.
“We have always supported him. His older brother has said he’s totally behind him and my husband – his stepdad – is behind him. His other brother has written to the BBC in his support as well.”
In his Facebook status, Mr West said:
“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.”
According to his mum, Mr West does not know when a decision about his job will be made and is not allowed to speak to the press in the meantime. But Mrs Morris hopes the situation will soon be resolved.
She said: “All I would say to Andy is to do what’s true to himself. He must do what he thinks is true to himself and I would stand by him.
“I believe that whatever comes from this will be the right thing either way. It’s what I’d call an ill wind.”
A BBC Spokesperson said:
“Tyson Fury’s victory and subsequent crowning as world heavy weight champion was widely covered by media outlets and his inclusion on the shortlist is similarly recognition of his sporting achievement – it is not about endorsing his personal views. It will be for the public to decide who will be crowned Sports Personality of the Year 2015.”
Regarding Andy West, they said: “We do not routinely comment on individual staff matters.”
With the award ceremony to take place next Sunday in Belfast, the Alliance Party’s LGBT group has accused BBC Northern Ireland of censorship for suspending Mr West.
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.”
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.”