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Monday 18 December 2017

'I am so sorry' - Porter resigns from €140k radio gig after sex allegations

Comedian Al Porter is facing allegations of indecent behaviour
Comedian Al Porter is facing allegations of indecent behaviour

Comedian Al Porter has resigned from Today AM after several allegations of indecent sexual behaviour.

The radio and TV personality (24) apologised to anyone that he has "genuinely offended" with his conduct, as the scandal continues to wreaks havoc with his €500,000-a-year career.

He said that he was "completely taken aback" by reports in the media and social networks over the weekend and by its "scale and tone of the vitriol".

"While my conduct, which had been in keeping with my flamboyant and outrageous public persona may be regarded as offensive and unacceptable by many people, I at no time intended to upset anyone," he said.

Porter added that he had been in the dark as to the effect of his behaviour and was "unaware of these complaints or the impact of my conduct."

"I am truly sorry for any distress I may have caused in what I regarded as light-hearted and good-natured circumstances," he said.

Allegations

On legal advice, he said that he couldn't comment on specific allegations, having enlisted the services of Belfast-based celebrity lawyer Paul Tweed.

The Tallaght-born comedian, who started his career as a 10-year-old child star in I, Keano, thanked Today FM, the Olympia Panto and TV3 for giving him time to deal with the situation.

"I have, however, come to the personal decision that I need time away from the spotlight after decades in the entertainment industry," he said.

"I have informed Today FM that I am resigning from the station with immediate effect."

The station, which began broadcasting his lunchtime show last February, said that it had accepted his resignation yesterday afternoon. One of the men who alleged he had been groped by Porter gave his reaction to his statement and was clearly unimpressed.

Comedian Conor O'Toole wrote: "'The tone of the vitriol.' That's amazing. My apologies to Al Porter for calmly and accurately describing my experience. Wow. Sorry I was a bad victim bud."

His message was then re-tweeted by a second comedian, who also levelled allegations against Porter.

The fall-out from the controversy has continued to affect the comedian's professional life, given his prolific presence on the entertainment scene.

TV3 has moved swiftly to distance itself from the star in the wake of the controversy.

A scheduled repeat of Blind Date, one of TV3's flagship shows, which he co-presents, was suddenly pulled on Saturday night amid the storm of allegations of inappropriate behaviour. He recently confirmed that a second series of the dating show was on the cards for next year.

It is not known if this will still go ahead, as TV3 declined to respond to the Herald when asked about its future.

The stand-up comedian was also due to take to the stage as the headline name in the Polly & The Beanstalk panto in the Olympia Theatre from December 15.

But given that he's taking some time off work, it's highly unlikely that he will now appear in the Christmas production. One of Ireland's best-known comedians, Porter has had a stellar rise to fame over the past year, selling out a record number of shows in Vicar Street and appearing on key TV shows both here and in Britain.

The current controversy could cost him an estimated €500,000, given that his deal as a key anchor with Today FM alone is understood to be worth €140,000 annually.

His salary with TV3 was understood to be in the region of six figures, in addition to his wages from the comedy circuit and gigs abroad.

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