Singer banned from airwaves after endorsing use of ecstasy

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The Independent Online
Singer Brian Harvey of the pop group East 17 apologised yesterday after he prompted a storm of criticism by appearing to condone the use of ecstasy.

Records and appearances by the group were banned across Britain after the singer with the chart-topping group claimed in a radio interview that it was safe to take ecstasy and that the drug could "make you a better person".

In comments attacked by politicians and anti-drugs campaigners, he claimed he had taken 12 tablets in one night and then driven. "Really in the long run, it's a safe pill and it ain't doing you no harm. I don't see the problem," he told LBC Radio in London.

"I think people genuinely like feeling like that. That's why they go out and that's why they do it."

Harvey said he was still able to concentrate enough to drive home after taking ecstasy, compared to when he had driven home completely drunk and had been less safe. He said: "When I was on a pill driving home, it was different, man, I was at the right speed limit and the car was going fine, you know what I mean."

Referring to the night where he claimed to have taken 12 tablets, he said: "The thing is - if you bang one, you go out, you have a good night and that's what people want to do." He said he was not encouraging the use of the drug, but added: "If it makes you feel better and gives you something to do at the weekend and you go out and have a good time, I don't see why not, man, because life's too short."

John Major told the Commons that he regarded any comments suggesting ecstasy was safe as "wholly wrong". "Drug taking, any drug taking, leads to hard drugs and, we have often seen, ends in tragedy."

As the protest gained momentum, the group were banned from appearing on a network television programme and from radio stations around Britain, with one DJ having to remove a track mid-play because of telephone protests. A spokeswoman said listeners had swamped telephone lines to complain after the comments were broadcast on news bulletins.

Carlton Television said a pre-recorded interview due to be shown on Saturday's flagship children's show had been dropped "as a protest against the comments made about the use of drugs".

Last night, Harvey apologised for his remarks. "It was really stupid of me to spout off," he said. "Without knowing any facts, I now realise that I was being very irresponsible and I would like to apologise as I've obviously caused offence."