Professor Brian Cox
Professor Brian Cox saidthe former UCL physicist had been unfairly judgedSteve Schofield/BBC

Physicist and TV presenter Brian Cox has lent his voice to those calling the reaction to sexist comments by Nobel laureate Tim Hunt disproportionate.

Cox said the former UCL physicist had been unfairly judged and was hounded out of his position at the London university by mobs.

Sir Tim Hunt sparked outrage in the media and within the scientific community after he told a conference in Seoul the problems he had with girls in the laboratory. "Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry," he said.

Speaking on BBC 4, Cox said: "Is it appropriate to hound someone out of their position at a university? Is it appropriate for the university to react in the way that UCL in this case did and ask someone to resign or else threaten to sack them?

"We do have a problem about these mobs, you call them Twitter mobs, descending on people who use language ill-advisedly and cause great professional ruin.

"To have a Nobel prize winner and, by all accounts, a great scientist and a good person being hounded out of a position at UCL, after all those years of good work in science, I think that's wrong and disproportionate."

Cox is not the first prominent media personality to back Hunt. Writing in the Telegraph last week Boris Johnson referred to the scientist as a "great and good man" who had been misjudged.

The London Mayor said: "At the moment we are failing to unlock the talents of both sexes because we are failing to grasp that they are intellectually equal but in some ways emotionally different."

He expounded the view that misplaced political correctness was to blame for Sir Tim Hunt's resignation.

Several leading female scientists have spoken out against Hunt's comments and the Royal Society, where he had been a fellow since 1991, was quick to distance itself from the remarks.