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Comic Relief snubs disabled bikers

Published: 09 March 2009

A Comic Relief film about disabled bikers was axed because programme makers did not want to be linked with motorcyclists, the head of a disabled bikers’ charity has claimed.

Emma Freud, partner of Comic Relief founder Richard Curtis, blocked the film, saying: “Comic Relief should not be associating itself with bikers,” according to the National Association of Bikers with a Disability (NABD).

NABD Chairman Rick Hulse made the claims on his Facebook page last week. He wrote: ‘Some years ago the NABD were approached by some people from the BBC who were involved in making the short film sections relating to different causes on Comic Relief day.

'They wanted a short piece about the NABD to include in the ‘Disabled People’ section of the programme.

'We agreed to this and a dozen of us spent a long freezing-cold day filming in the Peak District for what was planned to be a 30-second piece of the five minute section to do with disabilities.

‘Then three days before Red Nose day I had another call from the BBC director saying: “I’m really sorry about this Rick but we’ve had to edit the NABD piece out completely!”

'There had been a meeting to finalise the running order for Comic Relief and one of the presenters, a tenth rate media nobody called Emma Freud (daughter of the MP Clement Freud who’s only notable contribution to British society was a set of dog food adverts where he was up-staged by a baggy faced dog) had objected to our inclusion on the basis that “Comic Relief should not be associating itself with bikers” and the rest of them agreed so the piece was dropped.’

Hulse told MCN the episode happened around 10 years ago but he chose now to publicise it because he is often asked during the run-up to Comic Relief why the NABD is not featured.

He said: “The main reason for the blog was to get people to stop raising the issue but also to let bikers know before they go giving money to Comic Relief that it’s run by people who obviously despise bikers.”

A Comic Relief spokesman said: ‘The filming of the work of the NABD took place some time ago and was for a piece for the Red Nose Day show that illustrated the range of work that we support in the UK.

‘Comic Relief is proud to have been a long-time supporter of disabled people in their fight for equal rights and over a 10 year period committed £17.5million to support disability projects throughout the UK. We have always tried to portray disabled people positively.

‘Sometimes difficult decisions about what to include on the night have to be made. These decisions are often made because of time limitations and to ensure a mix of issues, locations and types of activities that reflect the work that we fund. We support so many issues; sadly we can’t include everything.

‘Emma Freud is a long time supporter of Comic Relief and has worked tirelessly to help us raise millions of pounds. She does not get involved in editorial decisions and had nothing to do with the decision to include this film on the night.’