Stephen Nolan warned off Stonewall podcast by ‘seasoned people’ within BBC

Oct 25, 2021 by

by Christopher Leebody, Belfast Telegraph:

BBC NI broadcaster Stephen Nolan has revealed “seasoned people” within the BBC warned him against producing his latest podcast investigating Stonewall.

Mr Nolan, who also presents 5 Live radio, told The Times that colleagues in the broadcasting corporation suggested the investigation about lobbying by the LGBT charity could affect his “career and safety” and suggested the subject was “untouchable”.

The ten-part investigative report on BBC Sounds touches on the potential influence of Stonewall on a number of organisations, including the Scottish and Welsh governments, the media regulator Ofcom and the BBC themselves.

The series has had a significant reaction online, with the podcast currently in the top five UK news charts on both Apple and Spotify.

One of the aspects the series focuses on is the charity’s diversity champions scheme, which advises employers on LGBT inclusion for a fee.

[…]  Mr Nolan said while it did not include BBC bosses, senior people in the organisation advised him not to put himself in the “firing line” over the series.

He added that he had also received a “tsunami” of support, including from senior BBC staff, leaving him “gobsmacked”.

“I’ve been broadcasting in Northern Ireland for 25 years with all the bullets and bombs, and I’ve had death threats. Yet really seasoned people were saying: ‘Do you really want to put yourself in the firing line on this?’” he told The Times.

“I’ve never had the volume of people warning me off it … [as] it could affect my career and safety.

“There’s a fear factor of even talking about it. That’s not acceptable or healthy. Debating a subject should not affect your career.”

The Belfast broadcaster said the series was “asking questions” of a lobby group and rejected accusations it was an “attack” on the LGBT community.

“There’s this framing: ‘You’re questioning Stonewall so this is an attack on gay people’,” he said.

“How ridiculous is that! Asking questions of a lobby group is not attacking anyone … and Stonewall does not represent the views of every gay person in the UK.

“This podcast was funded by, supported by and enabled by the BBC.

“That doesn’t mean I am not going to say that it is regrettable the BBC did not answer the questions.”

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