Matthew Wright murder comments 'offensive', rules Ofcom

 

Comments made by presenter Matthew Wright about the alleged murder of a teenager on a remote Scottish island caused "considerable offence" to viewers, TV watchdog Ofcom said today.

Liam Aitchison, 16, was found dead in a derelict building in the Steinish area of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in November.

His death was later raised during a newspaper review section on the Wright Stuff show.

He put on a Scottish accent and said "there's been another murder", copying a phrase from TV detective show Taggart, while talking about the teenager's death with guest Charlie Baker in December last year.

His remarks prompted 2,358 complaints to Ofcom from viewers of the broadcast on December 6.

A statement issued on behalf of Liam's family at the time said the comments were "very upsetting", "insulting" and "insensitive".

Wright later apologised on air, saying it had not been his intention to "belittle" the teenager's death. He also wrote to Liam's family to say sorry.

Ofcom found discussion of the teenager's death had been handled in a "highly inappropriate manner" and in a "thoughtless fashion". But it found that the matter had been "resolved" because Channel 5 took steps to mitigate the offence caused.

The watchdog said: "Our view was that all these comments were clearly capable of causing offence to viewers given the sensitivity surrounding the very recent murder of a 16-year-old teenager in an isolated Scottish community.

"Ofcom considered that the degree of offence that the comments caused was considerable. This was mainly because Matthew Wright responded to Charlie Baker's introduction to the news story by making a joke that made light of the murder. He then went on to laugh loudly with the audience as the conversation continued.

"In doing so, he appeared to pay no regard to the unfortunate circumstances of this murder case concerning the killing of a 16 year old well-known to many within the local community in which he lived."

Ofcom also said that "the absence of a timely apology" could have increased the offence caused.

In the Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, the watchdog added: "The comments made by Matthew Wright on this occasion went beyond the likely expectations of the audience for this programme. Ofcom recognises that the comments caused considerable offence, particularly to viewers in Scotland.

"On balance however, and in light of the steps taken by Channel 5 to mitigate this offence, Ofcom considered the matter resolved."

Two men have been charged with Liam's murder. Jonathan Mackinnon, 21, from Stornoway, and Stefan Miller, 20, from Carloway, both on the Isle of Lewis, appeared in private at Inverness Sheriff Court in December.

The last murder on Lewis was in 1968 when 80-year-old Mary Mackenzie was found dead in her cottage on the west side of the island in Brue. A man was reportedly charged with murdering her but the case was not proven.

In 2006 a murder inquiry was launched into the death of Murdo Macdonald but the charge was reduced to serious assault when it reached court.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
News
UK Border Control
i100
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Marketing Communications Strategist / Marcomms Strategist

Competitive (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing...

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Translation Project Manager

£20 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for Translation Project Managers...

Guru Careers: Service Delivery Manager

£35 - 50k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Service Delivery Manager is needed to join on...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn