David Mellor criticised for describing Steve Messham as a ‘weirdo’

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FORMER Conservative minister David Mellor has been criticised for describing Steve Messham, the child abuse victim at the centre of the BBC scandal, as a “weirdo”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show, Mr Mellor said it was “ludicrous” that Newsnight had relied on Mr Messham, who apologised on Friday for mistakenly identifying former Conservative Party treasurer Lord McAlpine as his attacker.

He said: “I don’t see how Newsnight as a brand can really survive this.

“The awful thing about McAlpine was it was so grotesque, they rely on a man who ... is a weirdo.”

Peter Watt, director of the NSPCC helpline, said comments such as those made by Mr Mellor were “extremely unhelpful”.

He added: “Being sexually abused can lead to long-term physical and emotional damage.

“We know that it can take years for victims to speak out about abuse. It is vital that those who do are able to receive therapy and counselling to help them recover from their ordeal and rebuild their lives.”

He added: “This sends the wrong message to young victims of abuse who may be discouraged from speaking out. And it could also make it more difficult for adults to speak out on behalf of children and report their concerns.”

Former Tory MP Louise Mensch described Mr Mellor’s description of Mr Messham as “abominable”.