Brian May has apologised after he appeared to defend Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer in the wake of sexual assault allegations against the film-maker.
The Queen guitarist shared a long message on Instagram in which he said he had “absolutely no intention” of defending the director.
After a report in the US emerged alleging that Singer sexually assaulted four men while they were under-age, one fan suggested to May that he unfollow the director on the social media platform.
Singer has denied the claims and called The Atlantic magazine’s story “a homophobic smear piece”.
He left the Freddie Mercury biopic midway through production and was replaced by Dexter Fletcher but still has the sole directing credit on the Oscar-nominated film.
May responded to the fan, writing: “You need to look after your own business and stop telling me what to do. And you need to learn to respect the fact that a man or woman is innocent until proven guilty.”
However, he has since offered an apology for the remark, addressing the woman directly, as well as “anyone else out there that I inadvertently offended”.
He wrote: “Dear Folks – I was shocked and saddened to realise what I had done by my hasty and inconsiderate IG reply to this lady yesterday. I’ve posted an apology to her in the ‘reply’ box, but it seems to have disappeared – so I’m going to try to repeat it here, to be clear.
“Dear Sue, I’m so sorry that I responded to your post so snappily and inconsiderately. My response was a result of my perception that someone was telling me what to do.
“I now realise that I was completely wrong in thinking that. You were actually just trying to protect me, for which I thank you. I am mortified to discover the effect my words produced.
“I had no idea that saying someone was innocent until proven guilty could be interpreted as “defending“ Bryan Singer. I had absolutely no intention of doing that.
“I guess I must be naive, because also it had never occurred to me that ‘following’ a person on Instagram could be interpreted as approving of that person.
“The only reason I followed Bryan Singer was that we were working with him on a project.
“That situation came to an end when Mr Singer was sacked during the shooting of the film, but I suppose unfollowing him never occurred to me as a necessity.
“Now, because of this misunderstanding, I have unfollowed. I’m so sorry. This must have caused you a lot of upset. I wish I could take the comment back, but all I can do is apologise, and hope that my apology will begin to make amends.
“Sadly, this is all very public, but since I snapped at you in public, it’s only fitting that I should apologise in public. I’m going to try to follow you so we can communicate privately if you want. With love – Bri.
“I should add that this is also a sincere apology to anyone else out there that I inadvertently offended. No such offence was intended and I will be more careful in future.”
Responding to the allegations against him, Singer said it was “vendetta journalism” that “rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention”.
He added: “And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.”