VIDEO - Star Trek actor: 'Ilfracombe is laced with prostitution'
By North Devon Journal | Thursday, May 31, 2012, 07:32
ILFRACOMBE residents have hit back at comments by actor William Shatner suggesting the town had a problem with illegal sex workers.
Shatner, who played Captain James T Kirk in Star Trek, said Ilfracombe was "laced with prostitution".
He made his comments as guest presenter of satirical BBC game show Have I Got News For You on Friday.
The host had been discussing the route of the Olympic torch which, for the first time in its history, had passed through Truro and Ilfracombe. Within minutes of making his remarks Facebook and Twitter were awash with comments.
Ilfracombe Team Sergeant Mike Warriner said Mr Shatner's comments had no legal basis. He said: "There is certainly no problem with prostitution in Ilfracombe. We have never had any complaints of this nature.
"I wouldn't take offence to it though. I suspect it was merely a light hearted joke."
Ilfracombe district councillor Paul Yabsley said Shatner's comments were appalling.
He said: "The town has never been linked with prostitution and clearly Mr Shatner has never been here. Hopefully people will just laugh it off as a joke."
One of the show's contestants, satirist Charlie Brooker, suggested Shatner's comments could be used as a marketing slogan for the town.
Town and district councillor Philip Webb, chairman of the town's marketing group, said: "William Shatner may have been where no man has been before but he has clearly never been to Ilfracombe.
"In the nine years I have lived here I have never seen or heard of any prostitution in the town and if Mr Shatner would like to come here he would see what a wonderful place it is with history Americans can only dream of."
Tara Davies, BBC Communications Manager, said: "The audience is used to the often irreverent humour on Have I Got News For You and this was clearly a tongue-in-cheek comment."
Watch a video of Mr Shatner's comments below: