IHC furious at 'retarded' slur

By Alistair Gray

Outspoken broadcaster Paul Henry is in trouble again - this time for calling Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle "retarded".

The host of TVOne's Breakfast made the comment on Monday's show when he said Boyle had been "starved of oxygen" at birth, causing her to have an intellectual disability.

"Here's the really interesting revelation: she is in fact retarded ... And if you look at her carefully, you can make it out," he told viewers.

Spokeswoman for intellectually handicapped charity IHC, Philippa Sellens, said Henry was mocking a "part of society that has trouble speaking up for themselves".

"Paul thought he was being funny but he wasn't, it was highly offensive. Very few people would have found it funny. When people like Paul mock and deride this section of society it feels like we've taken a step backward," she said.

The organisation had complained to TVNZ and the Human Rights Commission and would most likely take its complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority if unhappy with the state broadcaster's response

Henry went on the offensive yesterday, accusing IHC of distorting his words and "actively campaigning" against him.

Henry said there had been a phone campaign encouraging people to complain about him and he had seen emotional emails to the network from IHC children's parents.

"I move on and say something and it is but a moment in time, they're making more of it than they should. Essentially what they're saying is that I've got it in for intellectually handicapped people. It's just ridiculous."

In March TVNZ upheld complaints against Henry after he mocked a female guest for her moustache.

Henry said TVNZ handled complaints responsibly and he had faith in the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

- Herald on Sunday

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