THE Co Down farmer at the centre of the ‘Rihanna-gate’ affair said inaccurate reports had stereotyped him for being a Christian, writes Michael McGlade.
Nothing could have prepared Alan Graham for the intense scrutiny of the world’s media after he objected to the singer’s video-shoot in his field outside Bangor.
However, the 61-year-old DUP councillor has taken the whirlwind of publicity in his stride, and says he has been heartened by the messages of support from around the world.
It has been widely reported that Mr Graham had approached Rihanna, voicing his anger that she was wearing a bikini during the filming of her video.
But it has since emerged that the Grammy-award winning singer was in fact topless at the time.
“I would not have objected if she had been wearing a bikini,” Mr Graham told the News Letter.
“What happened was that I approached the film crew and asked them to stop, and then Rihanna came over and spoke to me a short time later.
“I think the story was taken up wrong from the start, and I was stereotyped for simply being a Christian, but it has not really fazed me.
“To be honest much was made of my religious beliefs, but it was not necessarily a religious issue at all.
“I believe it was a moral one, and many people have told me that they would have acted in the same way as I had,” he added.
Mr Graham was speaking yesterday as it emerged that a performance by Rihanna and fellow pop star Christina Aguilera on the X-factor final last December attracted several thousand complaints.
“I have been careful not to condemn Rihanna for what happened in the field, there are a lot of people around her who have to take responsibility and modern culture generally,” he added.
“When she spoke to me she was very gracious and respectful towards me.
“There is no doubt that she is a beautiful young woman, and I know there are many men who would want to see her with her clothes off, but I would rather she kept them on.
“I don’t see why someone who is a talented singer should have to do that.”
An incredible 831 individual news reports on ‘Rihanna-gate’ appeared on the internet, as well as newspaper and TV reports around the world.
With the singer due to perform her third and last concert in Belfast tonight, Mr Graham expressed his indifference to his new-found fame.
“I’ve heard that fans had booed her because she was late on stage on Thursday night, so it shows how quickly people can turn on you. The phone has been very busy since this all started, but I’m not too bothered by it all, I’m sure it will all die down soon enough,” he laughed.