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Abuse charity slams 'weirdo' remark

Former Conservative minister David Mellor has been criticised by a survivors' group after describing the child abuse victim at the heart of the crisis affecting the BBC as a "weirdo".

Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood, (Napac), said the remark by Mr Mellor about Steve Messham was not helpful to the victims of child abuse.

Mr Saunders also called on Tory MP Nadine Dorries to donate her MP's salary during her time on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! to his organisation.

"Our charity, Napac, really is struggling for funds and Children In Need is coming up which will raise good money for good charities," Mr Saunders told BBC Breakfast.

"But survivors often are left high and dry and of course the comment by David Mellor yesterday referring to a survivor of abuse as a weirdo certainly does not help our cause because we are often described as being weird if we dare to speak out about the abuse we suffered as children."

He added: "I think speaking out is one of the most important deterrents to child abusers everywhere."

BBC director-general George Entwistle quit dramatically on Saturday night, saying he was taking responsibility for the "unacceptable" Newsnight report which wrongly implicated former Tory Party treasurer Lord McAlpine in the North Wales child abuse scandal of the 1970s and 1980s, even though he had not known of the programme an advance.

The programme was cleared for broadcast at the level of the BBC board of management, even though the abuse victim, Mr Messham, was never shown a photograph of Lord McAlpine and the peer was not given a chance to refute the allegations.

Mr Messham withdrew his accusation a week after the broadcast, apologising to Lord McAlpine and saying he had been mistaken.

On the Sunday Politics show, Mr Mellor said: "I don't see how Newsnight as a brand can survive this... they rely on a man who the Mail on Sunday over two pages reveals... is a weirdo."

Ms Dorries, the Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire who is controversially taking part in the I'm A Celebrity jungle survival show, has said she will donate her MP's salary during her time on the programme to children's charities in her constituency.

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