THE SNP’s culture spokesman at Westminster is to challenge the BBC over Tyson Fury’s Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) nomination.

John Nicolson, who fronted flagship shows for the broadcaster, is to ask for answers about its failure to remove the boxer from the SPOTY list over his homophobic and sexist comments.

The East Dunbartonshire MP is also bidding to launch an official Westminster investigation into homophobia in sport.

Nicolson, a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, has already contacted chairman Jesse Norman over the matter and aims to bring it to the table in early 2016, potentially calling witnesses including BBC representatives and “out” sportspeople such as diver Tom Daley.

The 21-year-old diver, who is an ambassador for the LGBT+ support charity Switchboard, got engaged to screenwriter partner Dustin Black last month after coming out in 2013.

Nicolson, who came out publicly while presenting the BBC Breakfast programme in 1999, said the Fury controversy should act as the “trigger” for wider debate over the issue.

He said: “It’s time we looked into homophobia in sport because it is one of the last great bastions of homophobia in society.

“If we assume that ten per cent of the population are gay, which is the standard assumption going back to Kinsey, there is only a fraction of ten per cent of sportspeople who are out.

“The number of out footballers is a scandal. People tend to wait until they are retired to come out, which is what makes Tom Daley so unusual. There is obviously a problem.”

The SPOTY award winner will be announced on December 20, but the clamour over Fury’s nomination is likely to continue after the ceremony and last night more than 81,000 people had signed an online petition created by Edinburgh equality campaigner Scott Cuthbertson calling for his name to be removed from the list.

Cuthbertson argues that Fury’s comments make him unsuitable for the position as a role model, unlike fellow SPOTY nominees including Andy Murray, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Lizzie Armitstead.

Aside from Daly, openly gay athletes in the UK include gold-winning boxer Nicola Adams. However, when asked about women in boxing in a recent interview, heavyweight champion Fury discussed “ring girls” instead of fighters, branding mixed martial arts star Ronda Rousey “hot” rather than commenting on her skill and stating that a woman’s place is “in the kitchen or on her back”.

In a new YouTube clip made for IFL TV, Fury responded to the petition, calling the signatories “50,000 wankers”. He went on: “People should look up to me. Young kids. I am a good role model. I’ll show them how men should really be.

“This week has taught me that when you’re at the top of the world everybody wants to bring you down. But they’re never going to do it.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 2 yesterday, Fury again tried to defend his position on gay people, stating: “Homosexuality, abortion and paedophilia – those three things need to be accomplished before the world finishes – that’s what the Bible tells me.”

He added: “That isn’t my opinion, I didn’t say that, that’s what the Bible tells me, and that’s all I said.”

Reacting to the controversy, the BBC said: “The Sports Personality shortlist is compiled by a panel of industry experts and is based on an individual’s sporting achievement – it is not an endorsement of an individual’s personal beliefs either by the BBC or members of the panel.”

A Stonewall spokesperson said: ‘Homophobia is a serious issue in sport – on the pitch, in the terraces and in the locker rooms. We know for example that seven in ten football fans who’ve attended a match have heard or witnessed homophobia on the terraces.

“We also know that more than six in ten gay and bi men and four in ten lesbian and bi women expect to experiences homophobia in team sports. Rainbow Laces, Stonewall’s campaign to tackle these issues, aims to change the game for the better so that all players, coaches and staff, in all sports are accepted without exception.”

Tyson on Twitter

Dec 3: The Gypsy King, & the heavyweight champion of the world, will not be silenced I’ll always speak my mind, Like it or lump it, in Jesus name.

Dec 4: Hopefully I don’t win @BBCSPOTY as I’m not the best roll model in the world for the kids, give it to someone who would appreciate it

Dec 4: I’ve got more personality than all the other competitors put together,in this years @BBCSPOTY who can compete with my sporting achievement!!

Dec 5: Just to recap, I stick by anything I’ve said in the past, 10000% being the heavyweight champion makes no difference to me, I’m a roll model

Dec 5: I’m a mans man, who ever don’t like can go hoot there selfs, I follow Jesus, & I believe everything he says!!! If this offends u grow up!

SNP challenge BBC over Tyson Fury’s Sports Personality of the Year nomination

The National View: A bigot like Tyson Fury has no place on BBC award shortlist