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Complaints mount against Sunday Times 'piano wire at neck height' column

Joe Robinson
27 May 2020

Cycling UK calls Rod Liddle's column dangerous and 'inflammatory' although paper refuses to apologise

Complaints have mounted against Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle after he stated it was 'tempting' to stretch piano wire at neck height across roads used by cyclists.

Liddle's column was published in The Sunday Times last weekend and posted online. It began by bemoaning a 'middle-class family from the city who think they’re all Bradley bloody Wiggins.'

He then further described the family of four as having 'expressions of self-righteousness and irreproachable virtue', then added, 'My wife has persuaded me that, strictly speaking, it is against the law to tie piano wire at neck height across the road. Oh, but it’s tempting.'

UK cycling charity Cycling UK led complaints against Liddle's comments in an open letter from head of campaigns Ducan Dollimore, who called the article 'irresponsible' and 'inflammatory'.

'Writing in The Sunday Times (24th May 2020), regular columnist Rod Liddle wrote “it’s tempting” to “tie piano wire at neck height across the road” with a view to catch families of cyclists legally riding in his neighbourhood,' wrote Dollimore.

'Cycling UK has now registered a formal complaint with the paper, arguing that “the article in question is inflammatory, in seriously poor taste, and implies that a seriously dangerous and criminal act is somehow an acceptable course of conduct.

'Irresponsible articles in a national paper such as Mr Liddle’s on Sunday give the impression that behaviour such as this is fair game, because cyclists are annoying, however, whilst humour, satire and irony have their place, I would politely suggest that a line has been crossed.'

Dollimore then pointed out that the act of tying obstacles across a road was a criminal offence and that incidents of obstacles strung across the road had caused injuries to cyclists.

This happened as recently as 23rd May when Neil Nunnerly, 47, was admitted to hospital after 'wire traps and logs were found blocking trails and paths in Swansea and Cardiff'.

Joining Cycling UK in its complaints was cycling commentator and writer Ned Boulting who penned a letter to the editor of The Sunday Times lambasting the piece as dangerous, incorrect and unfunny.

Liddle has previous for inciting harm against cyclists after he claimed in an article published in December 2016 that he regularly aimed to 'car-door' cyclists when travelling in taxis in London.

The Sunday Times responded to a complaint about that article from Cycling UK, stating 'no retraction nor apology was necessary, as Mr Liddle was using “heavy irony”.'

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