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  1. ITV Report

BBC Director General: Viewers will make right decision over Tyson Fury in Sports Personality vote

Tyson Fury has attracted controversy. Photo: PA

BBC director general Tony Hall has rejected calls for boxer Tyson Fury to be removed from the Sports Personality of the Year awards shortlist over allegations of homophobic and sexist views.

Lord Hall says he trusts viewers to make the right decision on who to vote for in the Sports Personality of the Year category.

Since becoming heavyweight champion of the world, Fury has attracted a lot of media attention for classing homosexuality with paedophilia and for saying a woman's place is "on her back".

More than 130,000 people signed a petition requesting Fury's removal from the awards shortlist, but the BBC have dismissed this request.

Giving evidence to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Lord Hall insisted the decision to include Fury on the list had been taken by an independent panel.

Lord Hall believes the viewers will make the right decision. Credit: PA

"The panel added those two names, the BBC did not. Those two names were a decision made by the entire panel," he said.

"He has been put on that list for his sporting prowess and not for other things he has been doing."

Pressed on the issue by SNP MP John Nicolson, Lord Hall said: "The panel have made their judgment and what I believe is right is that people now vote - they are voting or will vote - on who will be SPOTY.

"I have been reading a lot of what people are commenting over the past couple of weeks on this, and there is your point of view which I understand and sympathise with. But there are others who say, 'do you know what, we kind of believe in free speech and we will make sure when it comes to the vote, trust us to say what is right when we come to vote'. People are quite split on this actually."

Lord Hall said he had his "private views" about Fury's opinions, but insisted: "One of the things which is key to the BBC is we are impartial and we should be a place where people's views can be heard across a range of opinion in all things.

"For me this is the fundamental principle. I trust our viewers, listeners, our voters to make sense of what is going on."