Saturday 22 October 2016

BBC football pundit apologises over retweet of sick threat aimed at journalist

Cate McCurry and Jonny Bell

Published 25/05/2016 | 12:04

BBC pundit Liam Beckett has apologised after he retweeted a violent threat aimed at a journalist.

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Football pundit and author Liam Beckett appeared to support a tweet which suggested commentator Malachi O'Doherty should be "done" in the legs and mouth following comments he made about motorcycle road racing.

He has apologised saying it was a "complete error" and that the retweet was done at a function while not wearing his reading glasses.

The columnist argued that the BBC should not be "acting as a cheerleader" for a sport that costs lives after the death of racer Malachi Mitchell-Thomas.

One Twitter user took to the social media site to threaten Mr O'Doherty.

"He wants his legs doing or better still, his mouth," he wrote.

Mr Beckett - a charity fundraiser - retweeted the intimidating comment, but deleted it hours later. The former Irish League boss has recently released a book about road racing.

Speaking on Frank Mitchell's U105 radio show, Liam issued an "unreserved 100% total apology".

He said the initial tweet was "absolutely unacceptable" from a man who he had never met and his retweet was a mistake.

He said: "This was a complete error on my behalf, anyone who would know me would know that is not how I do business."

Mr Beckett said he was at a function on Saturday night and - without his reading glasses - was "doing a few retweets".

He also offered an invitation to Mr O'Doherty to go to the Ulster Grand Prix to sample the atmosphere at a road race.

Mr O'Doherty said he faced a barrage of abuse after he commented that road racers are "driving themselves to serious injury and death".

He added that he was "horrified" at the retweet by the BBC pundit who he has never met.

"I was unnerved by it and I was shocked that it was someone like myself, a commentator who is essentially in the same business," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I was truly horrified and thought he would have known better. I take the threat very seriously and it does make me feel that I need to attend to my personal security.

"If someone of his profile with 6,000 followers signals to those followers that it would be desirable that I have my legs broken or mouth broken, that's something that puts me on my guard for my own personal safety.

"I am a commentator in the BBC and I am subject to the same guidelines, I understand that. So I was particularly surprised knowing that culture and ethos that someone from inside the BBC would have done such a thing."

He added that while Mr Beckett is entitled to have issues with his views on road racing, he was "not entitled" to issue a rally call to his thousands of Twitter followers to "have a dig" at him.

He continued: "For my living as a freelance journalist I need to know that I am safe going into the BBC building. I don't need to be going in and out of there looking over my shoulder wondering if I am going to meet someone who is trying to rally people to attack me.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "We are aware of issues raised by Liam Beckett's retweet on Friday evening and will be looking into them."

Belfast Telegraph

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