View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Wright Stuff - Channel 5 has replied

Date: 15th December 2011

Dear Correspondent

Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding The Wright Stuff.

We would like to assure you that having investigated the matter with senior producers of the programme, nobody on the programme’s panel or editorial team had any intention of causing distress to viewers or, more importantly, the family of murdered teenager Liam Aitchison with the comments that were made in the 6th December episode. They deeply regret that they have done so; as does Channel 5. The comments made by the programme’s presenter Matthew Wright and guest Charlie Baker on the programme were unfortunate, misjudged and entirely inappropriate. Having recognised this Matthew and Charlie have apologised in subsequent programmes and Matthew apologised in writing to Liam's father.

The tragic story of Liam Aitchison’s murder formed part of the daily newspaper review. The story was running in a number of newspapers that morning, and was of interest being the first murder on the Western Isles for more than 40 years. The story was always intended to be reviewed in the most sensitive manner and both Charlie and Matthew had discussed this with producers to that effect. When the story of Liam’s murder was reached, Charlie Baker introduced it by reading a headline from a newspaper and commenting that it was a sad story. At that point, Matthew Wright interjected in what we now recognise was a highly inappropriate manner, entirely unforeseen by the production team. In light of Matthew’s words, Charlie reacted in a similarly thoughtless fashion. As soon as these comments were made a senior producer of the programme acted immediately to remind them that this was a serious story, covering as it did the death of a 16-year-old, and the conversation moved on. Regrettably this was too late as the offensive comments had been made.

In an unscripted, live programme not every discussion turns out as we might wish and having reviewed the matter after the programme finished on 6th December, both Channel 5 and the producers felt an apology and explanation was necessary. The following day, 7th December, Matthew apologised during The Wright Stuff pointing out that he certainly had not intended to belittle in any way the seriousness of a tragic story or offend anyone who knew Liam Aitchison.

Once again, we can assure you that the programme never seeks to intentionally offend anyone and all personnel involved with the programme as well as Channel 5 are sorry for the offence these remarks have caused. We are grateful to you for taking the time to make us aware of your particular concerns and have logged the details of your complaint in the Viewer Enquiries Report. This is circulated throughout the company and seen by all relevant personnel.