Inside Lines: Yes minister, time to speak out about all these scandals

Sports and equality minister Helen Grant needs to make a point about Malky Mackay

Will there be a timely word soon from the sports minister on the latest unsavoury sporting scandal, the allegations of racism, sexism and homophobia involving the former Cardiff manager Malky Mackay and ex-club official Iain Moody?

So far Helen Grant, who was appointed last October, has remained silent on controversial issues – not least England’s abysmal football World Cup performance – but last week’s shocking revelations surely need some high-level comment, especially as one of the other hats she wears is that of equalities minister. I have some sympathy with Grant.

Her popular predecessor Hugh Robertson, who invariably had a quotable view on contentious matters, has proved a hard act to follow. After her early “Question of Sport” quiz failures in her constituency, Britain’s first black sports minister seems to have purposely adopted a low-profile approach to a role which the Government erroneously appears to consider of less significance now that 2012 is done and dusted.

She prefers digging away quietly at the grass roots of sport than mixing it with the big hitters and has genuine enthusiasm for issues such as greater participation by women and young people. When she took over she assured me: “My door will always be open”, yet some sports bodies complain she is hard to pin down.

British basketball’s performance chief, Roger Moreland, says he requested a meeting with her in June to discuss Government-backed UK Sport’s withdrawal of funding, which has had a crippling effect on the sport, and others similarly hit, but was told he must wait until October because of the summer recess, party conferences and her other ministerial commitments, which also include tourism. PM David Cameron obviously has more pressing matters to deal with on his return from holiday but surely it is now time to make her position as sports minister a full-time job.Kellie’s eye on Audley

Has anyone here seen Kellie? On Celebrity Big Brother that is. Apparently Kellie, né Frank, Maloney, has told housemates on the TV reality show that he “hates being a woman” and is thinking of returning to his male gender. If we didn’t know better we’d think it sounds like the sort of stuff the  ex-boxing promoter used to dream up to hype his shows. Much-in-demand Kellie, has renewed an acquaintance with heavyweight boxer Audley Harrison on CBB. Last time they met, Maloney was hoisting a stricken “Fraudley” off the deck after a first-round knock-out by David Price two years ago. Kellie’s purse for the Channel 5 show is reputedly £400,000, considerably more, we suspect, than the devalued Harrison, who might be better changing from Audley to Audrey.

Dilemma for the Beeb

We hear rumblings of a possible dilemma at the BBC over the Sports Personality award. Will present incumbent Andy Murray and other Scots still be eligible if Scotland votes yes in next month’s referendum? The award goes to British personalities but should Scotland no longer be part of the UK surely that would rule out the Scots, among them gold medal-winning Commonwealth Games stars such as swimmer Hannah Miley and hurdler Eilidh Child? Moreover, 14-year-old Maria Lyle (pictured), a record-breaking sprinter in the International Paralympic Committee European championships, and Shetland schoolgirl swimmer Erraid Davies, at 13 the youngest winner of a Commonwealth Games medal, are strong contenders for the Young Personality award. Meanwhile, Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, the Open golf champion, must be a shoo-in for the main gong this year. But will he be blacklisted rather than shortlisted in 2016 after opting to represent Ireland in the inaugural Olympic tournament?

a.hubbard@independent.co.uk

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