BBC director general Tony Hall is to be questioned over the corporation’s decision not to remove controversial boxer Tyson Fury from the Sports Personality of the Year (Spoty) shortlist following his homophobic and sexist remarks which have since resulted in police launching a hate crime investigation.
Hall will come before the culture, media and sport select committee next Wednesday where he will answer questions on the appropriateness of having the 27 year-old heavyweight champion as a nominee.
Pressure has been mounting on the BBC after more than 100,000 people signed a petition set up by the LGBT campaigner Scott Cuthbertson which calls for Fury to be removed from the shortlist.
SNP MP and former BBC presenter, John Nicolson, is a member of the culture, media and sport select committee and has also called for Fury’s removal in an open letter to Hall.
In the letter, Nicolson wrote: “By nominating Mr Fury, the BBC endorses his view that he’s a role model. Moreover it would, subsequently, be difficult for the corporation to defend itself against the accusation that it is half-hearted in its opposition to homophobia. I find it inconceivable that the BBC would allow his candidacy to proceed had he expressed racist, Islamophobic, or antisemitic views in such terms.
“All across the country young people – both gay and straight – will watch the awards. Mr Fury’s name going forward will send out the clearest of signals – namely that extreme bigotry is not a disqualification for one of our country’s highest sporting honours. That cannot be right.”
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed that the force was investigating a report of hate crime for the comments in which Fury said legalising of abortion, paedophilia and homosexuality signified a kind of Old Testament-derived reckoning.
The BBC apologised for presenter Clive Myrie comments in which he described Fury as a “dickhead” during a live TV newspaper review on Monday night.