The BBC presenter Alex Scott has said she is proud of her accent after she was criticised by a former minister who said she “needs elocution lessons” and “spoils” Olympics coverage.
Lord Digby Jones, a crossbench peer who served as a trade minister under Gordon Brown, hit out at the former Arsenal and England footballer in tweets on Friday night, in which he also criticised Sky News political editor Beth Rigby.
He wrote: “Enough! I can’t stand it any more! Alex Scott spoils a good presentational job on the BBC Olympics Team with her very noticeable inability to pronounce her ‘g’s at the end of a word. Competitors are NOT taking part, Alex, in the fencin, rowin, boxin, kayakin, weightliftin & swimmin.”
He added: “She’s hot on the heels of Beth Rigby at Sky … Can’t someone give these people elocution lessons?”
In response, Scott said: “I’m from a working-class family in east London, Poplar, Tower Hamlets and I am PROUD. Proud of the young girl who overcame obstacles, and proud of my accent! It’s me, it’s my journey, my grit.”
She added that tweets like Jones’s “just give me the energy to keep going”, adding: “See you tomorrow … live on BBC baby”.
Scott, who retired from international duty in 2017 after making 140 appearances for the England women’s football team and representing Team GB at the 2012 Olympics, was awarded an MBE for services to football.
Alongside a clip of the former US first lady Michelle Obama’s “When they go low we go high” speech, she tweeted: “A quick one to any young kids who may not have a certain kind of privilege in life. Never allow judgments on your class, accent, or appearance hold you back.”
Among those to tweet their support was Rigby who told Scott: “Keep doin’ what you do so brilliantly.” Dawn Butler, the Labour MP for Brent Central, also responded, saying: “Keep rising.”
The former England footballer Gary Neville added to the backlash later on Saturday, tweeting “Lord Digby Jones! Just say that name to yourself a few times! He has a say in how our country operates. I’m actually starting to see how revolutions occurred! Are you?”
• This article was amended on 1 August 2021 to remove information added during the editing process that went against style guidance.