Screenshot of the Thorn Tree forum

London - The commercial arm of the BBC has shut down its hugely popular forum for backpackers and travellers because “uncomfortable themes” were being discussed.

BBC Worldwide suspended the Thorn Tree forum on its Lonely Planet website on Saturday. It bought the travel guide company for a total of £132.2m in two deals in 2007 and 2011. The closure was met with consternation from travellers who use the forum over Christmas period to swap advice.

A BBC Worldwide spokesman yesterday strongly denied speculation that the “uncomfortable themes” were paedophilia.

“We've found no evidence of discussions concerning paedophilia on the Thorn Tree forum, but we have discovered instances of inappropriate language and themes,” he said. “Until we are confident that all rogue posts can be identified and appropriate action taken, we feel we have no option but to temporarily close the site as a precautionary measure.”

He added that the forum would be closed for at least a week to go through all posts with a “fine tooth comb”. - The Independent