Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It now seems certain that Tyson Fury will not be removed from the shortlist for this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year. BBC Complaints replied to an enquiry on Saturday 12th December:-
Your complaint has been passed to us by Barbara Slater for us to respond. This is because it should be handled in accordance with the BBC Complaints procedure as defined in the BBC Trust Complaints framework (http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/governance/complaints_framework).

We acknowledge your views on the shortlisting of boxer Tyson Fury for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 in light of comments reportedly made in a recent newspaper interview.

To explain, an independent expert panel decided on the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015. You can find full details of the panel on our website at www.bbc.co.uk/sport/sports-personality/34727935. The winner will be decided by a public vote during the live programme which will be broadcast on Sunday 20th December.

Whilst we appreciate that you feel he should not have been shortlisted, the panel included Tyson Fury on the 2015 shortlist on the basis of his sporting achievements, as he became the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. The inclusion of sportspeople on the shortlist does not constitute an endorsement by the BBC of any personally-held views.

Thanks again for getting in touch with us. Please be assured that your views have been registered, and we’ll also make sure all feedback is passed on to the BBC Sports Personality team for their information

My response to Ms Slater on Sunday 13th December:-
a) I am not clear whether or not the Panel were aware of the controversy surrounding comments made by Tyson Fury.

b) The BBC has not denied the veracity of the Belfast Telegraph report, so I assume that his name was indeed added without any deliberations, contrary to the claim by Hazel Irvine that there was a well-agreed consensus.

c) The BBC has now argued in its defence that Tyson Fury was shortlisted "on the basis of his sporting achievements." However according to this SPOTY web page, consideration should be given to the 'impact' over and beyond the sport or sporting achievement in question.

d) Your inclusion of Tyson Fury on the shortlist diminishes the status of the Title. Recently, BBC children's TV has only reported on the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, and has steered clear of news about the main award and its negative associations.

It appears the BBC broke its own rules by shortlisting Tyson Fury. Therefore Belfast journalist Andy West was fully justified in making clear he was ashamed to work for the Corporation. He should be reinstated immediately, and receive an apology for the egregious way he has been treated.

I do not vote in competitions, and don't intend to make an exception merely in the hope that someone other than Tyson Fury will win. To be frank, I believe - and suspect you appreciate - that a win for Mr Fury will be a huge embarrassment for the BBC.

BBC Director General, Lord Tony Hall is due to appear before the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sports Committee tomorrow afternoon, and it's possible he'll be asked more questions about the SPOTY shortlist.

It seems there's a climate of fear at the BBC, exacerbated by the suspension of Andy West. To date BBC journalists appear reluctant to even report news about the treatment of their colleague.

Happier times: Andy reports on the outcome of the gay marriage referendum in Ireland

Andy's mum told MK News that she's proud of him for standing his ground. She said that he's feeling quite stressed and doesn't want to lose his job. BBC Pride has yet to issue a statement.

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