BBC accused of mocking DUP leader's Christian faith

(Photo: BBC Newsnight)

The BBC has been accused of taking "the mickey out of" incoming DUP leader Edwin Poots' Christian faith. 

Poots is a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, which believes in young earth creationism. 

In a heated exchange on Newsnight, DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr lashed out at the BBC over its supposed treatment of Poots because of his religious beliefs. 

"I'm reminded of the Frank Skinner line, you can be anything in Britain today except a Christian," Paisley said. 

He told presenter Faisal Islam that Poots was "entitled to be the leader and he's entitled to have his faith".

"The BBC want to lambast the man because he happens to be a man of faith and they want to take the mickey out of his religion, you wouldn't do that if he was a Muslim," he said.

"You should be ashamed of yourselves and the BBC should be ashamed of yourselves for starting from that position." 

He then said that Poots had "never been in a position where he would try and force his faith down your throat or anyone else's throat and he would not allow those things get in the way of how he engages in policy and policy-making."

He added that under Poots, people who feel "you're not allowed to have an opinion that might offend someone in some other quarter, that opinion can now be voiced". 

A spokesperson from the BBC refuted Paisley's assertions.

"At no point did anyone on the programme mock religious beliefs," they said.