Matthew Wright: Apologised but told complainers to ‘grow up’. Pic: © Rex Features
TV presenter Matthew Wright has apologised after sparking outrage over comments about the murder of Lewis teenager Liam Aitchison.
The 16-year-old’s murder was a topic of discussion on the Channel 5 show during a newspaper review on Tuesday’s programme.
The often-controversial host prompted laughter from the audience as he joked about the island’s first murder inquiry in more than 40 years, putting on a Scottish accent to say “There’s been a murder”.
Panellist Charlie Baker also joined in the discussion, saying it was the “longest episode of Taggart ever”.
The comments prompted a string of angry messages on the programme’s website and complaints have now been made to media regulator Ofcom.
On Wednesday morning’s show Mr Wright apologised for the comments, but also told complainers to “grow up”.
He told the audience he had been “touched by death” himself, and did not mean to make light of the matter, but said people mounting campaigns to complain should “grow up”.
An Ofcom spokesman confirmed that complaints had been received but refused to disclose how many.
He said: “We are in the process of assessing those complaints. We have not made any decision to investigate those complaints at this stage.”
He said an investigation could not be ruled out.
The page says Matthew Wrights comments were “disgraceful” and caused anger and offence to people in the community mourning the teenager’s loss.
One read: “Your item on Liam Aitchison was crass and insensitive. Utterly despicable. Apologise immediately.”
Local MP Angus MacNeil says he is writing to Ofcom after receiving “a large number” of complaints from constituents.
He said: “This is a very sad time for the family of Liam Aitchison, and his murder has stunned the local community.
“To see Matthew Wright on his Channel 5 programme yesterday making jokes about the tragedy and behaving as he did is beyond belief, and has disgusted everyone who have seen the programme.”
Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has made a formal complaint to Channel 5 following what he called “crass and insensitive” comments.
The Channel 5 host caused controversy in October over comments he made about American student Amanda Knox after she was acquitted of the murder of British flatmate Meredith Kercher in Italy.
Western Isles Council is also wading into the argument, making official complaints to both Channel 5 and OfCom.
Angus Campbell, council leader, said: “The council and the local community find it offensive that people on a TV show joke about a young boy’s death.
“His tragic death should not be a subject for jokes and we will be raising the matter with Channel 5 and Ofcom as a matter of urgency.”
Viewers were stunned with the live debate entitled ‘Foxy Knoxy: Would Ya’, when he asked people to vote on whether they would “take Amanda Knox home”.
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Matthew Wright sparks outrage over Lewis murder comments