The BBC has rejected calls to remove Tyson Fury from the Sports Personality of the Year shortlist following his controversial comments last month.
Pressure has mounted on the BBC in recent weeks to have the 27 year-old taken off the awards nominations following his controversial remarks however BBC director general Tony Hall confirmed to a committee of MPs that the heavyweight boxer would remain on the shortlist.
Hall said Fury had been put on the list for his “sporting prowess” and that he trusted the public to judge who deserves to win the contest.
He was quick to distance himself from Fury’s comments, adding: “In terms of the policies that we promote, the BBC is completely at odds with what Tyson Fury has said."
John Nicolson – the SNP MP, member of the culture, media and sport select committee and a former BBC presenter challenged Hall’s decision by reading aloud two of Fury’s tweets underlining his homophobic and sexist views.
One talked about going home to break his wife’s jaw to which Nicolson asked “What do you think women and gay kids watching this will think? That the BBC has allowed him to go up on a pedestal?”
Shadow Labour culture secretary Michael Dugher also criticised Hall’s stance, saying that he had failed to “adequately justify” his refusal to remove Fury.
Dugher argued that “the Sports Personality of the Year awards are not just about celebrating sporting achievement, they are about honouring role models too.”
He said that Fury had “crossed the line” with his comments and that leaving him as one of the nominees “will be seen by many as condoning his unacceptable behaviour".
“It’s not too late for the BBC to do the right thing and drop him from the programme,” he added.
The ceremony in Belfast will take place on Sunday and is expected to be picketed by gay and feminist rights organisations.