'There's been another murder': UK's Wright Stuff presenter apologises for teen murder comments

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Angered viewers as well as Liam Aitchison's father complained on the Channel 5 website.
Image: AxG.

Matthew Wright, host of British television programme The Wright Stuff, has apologised for remarks he made on the show in relation to the murder of Liam Aitchison.

On the edition of the Channel 5 programme broadcast on Tuesday, the murder of Liam Aitchison was being examined as part of a newspaper review segment. At this point, Wright said the words "there's been another murder" while using a false Scottish accent, as a reference to the UK television crime drama Taggart. Charlie Baker, who appeared on the panel alongside Wright, remarked that the investigation into Aitchison's death would be like "the longest episode of Taggart of all time". The audience can be heard to be laughing at this point. "There's a lot of downtime in between," Baker continued.

In the statement, the family of Liam Aitchison found what they called the "insensitive and offensive nature of the comments made" to be "very upsetting and insulting for, not just the family, but for the whole community of the Western Isles." On the website for The Wright Stuff, Liam Aitchison's father Norman wrote a comment which read: "Would your panel members be making a joke of this if it was one of their own children? My son's death is no joke and I am disgusted with every single one of you on that panel. Let my son rest in peace".

On the edition of The Wright Stuff broadcast yesterday, Wright said he would "like to apologise" if any viewers had been offended by his comments. "Certainly, no intention on my part to belittle the seriousness, or the tragedy of this story, or to offend anyone who knew Liam," Wright clarified. "You know me, I have been touched by death too many times to belittle anything like that." Channel 5 believe that Wright had made his apology "clear", according to a spokeswoman for the channel. However, Wright mentioned that he had "[n]ot [been] helped by people running campaigns 'report Matthew Wright to Ofcom'," a UK media regulator. He advised such people to "grow up".

Channel 5 subsequently revoked access to Tuesday's episode of The Wright Stuff from its on demand service. The comments have also been removed from their website.

Angus MacNeil, the MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, described the behaviour of Wright as "beyond belief" and told of his intention to complain to Ofcom. The comments "disgusted everyone," MacNeil said. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, a local authority within the islands, has complained to Ofcom. A page on the social networking website Facebook, entitled 'Report The Wright Stuff to Ofcom', has attracted in excess of two thousand likes. Ofcom is currently "in the process of assessing those complaints", according to a spokesperson. As of yet, the regulator has not "made any decision to investigate those complaints at this stage", although the concept of an investigation is currently a possibility.

Earlier this month, the Northern Constabulary, which has not made any statement regarding this matter, launched a murder inquiry in the aftermath of Liam Aitchison's death, having considered his death to be as the result of a murder following an autopsy. He was last sighted in the town of Stornoway on November 22 of this year. His remains were found in an abandoned building in Steinish on November 29.