Ed Byrne has quit Twitter after Keith Chegwin accused him of putting his family ‘through hell’.
The pair have exchanged words on the microblogging site after Cheggers stole the gags of countless comedians and published them under his own feed, without credit.
Byrne was one of those comics to take issue with the former Swap Shop sidekick, prompting something of a cyber-feud. And now Byrne has had enough of the accusations being against him, so has
The row flared up when comic Simon Evans pointed out the wholesale theft, sending an open Twitter message saying: ‘Cheggers old chap, I know you’re doing this with the best of intentions but these jokes are by professional comedians and it’s simply not on to use them in this way.’
Chegwin then blocked Evans, claimed all the jokes were written by long-dead comedians – even though plenty were clearly not – and branded all modern comedians as dull and humourless.
Byne supported his circuit colleague with the tweet: ‘I’m surprised by Keith Chegwin’s reaction to Simon Evans tweet about nicking jokes.’
Cheggers hit back with: ‘These comedians, most of them doesn’t even write good stuff, they just refresh the memory. Ed Byrne, honestly’ – to which Byrne replied: ‘Most of them doesn’t even write good stuff? That’s the command of the English language that’s kept you off our screens for so long.’
Although Byrne apologised – and Cheggers professed himself to be a ‘big fan’ of the Irish comic – fans from both sides took up the fight, and allegedly hassled both celebrities online.
Chegwin complained about ‘cyber bullies’ on Twitter, and named Byrne and Evans as well as Russell Kane and David Baddiel, who made reference to Chegwin’s alcoholism in one post, for which he later apologised.
Byrne said yesterday: ‘I think the interesting thing to note about this is how reluctant Keith is to give any credit to comedians who write the jokes he tweets, but how willing he is to tweet the names of comedians who complain about him.’
In November, Cheggers suddenly stopped tweeting, claiming he had received death threats; while the following month Byrne tweeted that he had received some abuse from ‘one of Chegwin’s dullards’, prompting Chegiwn to accuse Byrne of ‘having a go at me yet again. Leave me alone Ed.’
Byrne deleted the offending tweet and told Cheggers he had no wish to reopen hostilities and was ‘sorry to see people were giving him shit’.
However, last week Chegwin resumed posting other people’s jokes on Twitter, and in one post claimed: ‘Ed Byrne has put me and my family through hell by telling lies about me in the press and on radio.”
The Irish comic cited that tweet as he resigned from the website yesterday.
He said: ‘I’ve had to put up with allegations that I’ve driven him from Twitter by getting people to threaten his life. And as if that wasn’t enough, last Tuesday comes the tweet [above]. Obviously, as soon as it was posted I was met with a torrent of shit from, to be fair to them, misguided people calling me every name under the sun.
‘Maybe you disagree with the very notion that a person can own a joke. Fine. We don’t agree. But to call me a bully for voicing my opinion? That seems unduly harsh. To call me a nasty piece of work for publicly discussing the issue? Seems unfair. To hold me responsible for death threats? Utterly laughable.
‘And for someone to say that I put him and his family through hell by telling lies about him? That is, at best, a gross exaggeration designed to engender sympathy, and at worst, a deliberate and calculated distortion of the facts designed to incite people to send me abuse on the Internet.
‘Let’s give Cheggers the benefit of the doubt and say it’s the former, because if it’s the latter, well, that would be the very definition of cyberbullying, wouldn’t it?
‘So that’s where we are now, and that’s the reason I’ve decided maybe Twitter isn’t for me. It’s not that I feel I’m being driven from Twitter by Keith Chegwin’s fans. It’s just that if weighing into a Twitter debate means I’m still getting grief about it nine months later, I just don’t think I can be arsed with it.
‘And if saying what I said really can put a man and his family through hell, that’s simply too much power for somebody like me to wield. So, for now, at least, I think I’ll give Twitter a rest.'
‘PS This blog is not to be seen as a call to arms. I don’t want anyone hurling abuse at Chegwin as a result of anything I’ve said here.’
Click here to read Byrne’s full blog entry.